GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Some of the greatest stress and frustration we experience at tax time comes from managing all the documents needed to complete our return.
Louise Kurzeka of Everything's Together joined KARE 11 News @4 to give us a few simple tips that insure you will find tax papers, receipts and other important documnets when you need them.
Create a Checklist
You'll be less overwhelmed with the whole tax process if you start with a plan. Look at the last couple years' tax returns and create a checklist of the documents you usually need to prepare the return. That way you won't miss anything. Keep the list where you usually manage the mail and check off items as they arrive.
Gather and Sort
Use an organizing tool to get the information separated and ready for preparing the return. A Smead Income Tax Organizer has six pocketed sections that can be labeled to hold income, deductions and other types of documents you'll need along with the previous years' return(s) for reference. Be sure to add in contact information for helpful resources such as your tax preparer, IRS and state toll free numbers, and community assistance programs. Use the organizer to make sure items are easy to find when ready to prepare the return.
Contain and Protect
After the tax return has been filed, place your copy and supporting documents into the portfolio organizer, labeled for the tax year and store in a secure location with previous years' returns. A fire safe box stored on the lowest level of your home will provide protection from potential harm, but allow for easy retrieval of documents if needed. Always keep the box locked. Otherwise consider using a bank safe deposit box for storing returns and other important documents. Add to the fire safe box other items such as birth, death and marriage certificates, contracts, vehicle titles and property deeds so they too will be kept safe but accessible.
Label folders to hold these items and keep a list of them in your home office filing system for handy reference. Also, use this time as an opportunity to purge out old supporting documents from taxes making sure to shred, burn or otherwise destroy these sensitive papers so as to avoid identity fraud.
Investing time now to set up a system to manage tax documents will take the stress and hassle out of the yearly tax time ritual and keep you organized.