Start Organizing for Tax Season Here on the Suncoast
Yep, I know it’s that time of the year again – tax season. These last couple of years have seen a lot of changes regarding tax credits, deductions, and the like. Many people will put off planning for the dreaded April 15th deadline, while others have a process for tracking all they need to throughout the year. Here are just a few helpful tips to prepare and organize for tax season.
Specify a Spot to Store Tax Items
Do you know those tax documents you received in the mail over the past few days and weeks? You’re going to round them up and place them in a folder for safekeeping until you are ready to prepare your taxes. Take a manila folder and label it “Tax Documents.” Locate all the tax documents you’ve received in the mail recently, such as salary, income, or investment documents, and place them inside the folder. Store your folder in a safe location. If you received electronic tax documents, now would be a good time to print out hard copies, and place those copies in your tax document file. In addition to creating a physical file folder, you may also want to create a tax folder on your computer to keep everything contained.
Tax Season Documents for Everything
There can be a lot of documents required for tax season. Often W2’s and other income are easy enough to remember, but do a quick check of all the following to be sure you don’t need additional documents for your taxes:
- W-2 Wages and Paycheck Stubs
- Unemployment Income
- Stocks Sold or Cryptocurrency Sold
- Did You Win Anything? (Prizes or Cash)
- Do You Receive Alimony?
- Do You Have A Rental Property?
- Side Hustle Income (Blogging, Ubert, etc.)
Keep Electronic and Paper Backups
While you’ll want to hold onto paper receipts to document your expenses, a receipt can get lost or damaged, or even fade over time. Protect receipts and other documentation by keeping a digital copy of your expenses. This can be as simple as:
- Scanning your receipts to store as images or PDFs, or asking that they be emailed to you if that’s an option
- Keeping electronic rent receipts
- Saving PDFs of utility bills
Check-in on the electronic documentation you have as part of your regular check-in to make sure you have a digital backup of all your receipts before you put them into long-term storage.
Charitable Donations Matter During Tax Season
In order to take advantage of a tax deduction for charitable donations, you must have proof of your giving. You either need a bank record or an official note from the charity acknowledging how much you contributed and the date of the contribution.
If you give often, create a spreadsheet with the date, gift amount, and charity you gave to in case you need to request official documentation of your donation. This way you won’t need to scramble at the end of the year to meet the requirements for the deduction.
Hopefully, with a little planning, organization, and foresight, tax season is a lot less stressful for many of us. Whether you do the forms yourself or employ someone to take care of that for you – preparation is the key to getting this done on time and with as little stress as possible.
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