So…we just said hello to Baby New Year and now we’ve suddenly been rushed off to face Uncle Sam! Yes, it’s that time of the year again; time to get your documents in order and send off your returns, and sometimes even more money! My wish for all of you is to get a nice big check to do something fun with, but even if you don’t, the feeling of getting organized can sometimes give you a natural high. Yes, I am an organizer and of course I’m going to say that, right?! It’s true for everyone though! Use the following tips to get all of your papers and receipts in order and implement them now for your 2013 return.
1) Invest in at least 1 tickler file. If you run a small business out of your home, like me, then get a second one. You’ll be able to reuse these every year. Usually there are 2 different options with tickler files, those labeled January through December and those labeled in categories such as dental/medical and rent/mortgage. With the one labeled monthly, slip receipts and statements from each month into the corresponding pocket. Conversely, with the one labeled with categories, slip all receipts and statements into each corresponding pocket. Or just find whatever tickler file that you can and create your own labels!
2) Start to sort. Pull out that shoebox of receipts and piles of statements and invoices! Separate them by month or by category depending on the kind of tickler file that you are using.
3) Check your mail closely. You should have been receiving your W2s and 1099s, investment statements and things of that nature since the beginning of the year. Be sure to call employers if for some reason your copies have not arrived yet. Put them in their own pocket in the front of the tickler file, or if there is no room, use a binder clip and attach them to the front of it. The ticker file should have a flap that will keep those covered when it is closed.
4) Print statements out. I know it can seem like a waste of paper, especially if you have signed up for online statements for all of your accounts, however, if you go to a tax preparer or accountant to have your taxes done, they will most likely be needed. Aside from the bank statement and your year end mortgage statement, print out, or ask for invoices from your doctors, dentist and pharmacy. That way if your receipts have gone missing, you will still have invoices of what you paid.
5) Call your Tax preparer or Accountant. If you use one, you will want to call them now. The closer is gets to the deadline, the less time they will have to help you.
6) File! Whether on line or by mail, make sure you get your envelopes postmarked before the post offices close on Monday April 15th! Or plan now to schedule an extension with the IRS.
Do the best you can and I hope the leprechaun leads you to your own pot of gold in the form of a big refund check!