Where to start for a much-needed tax clean up
As people around the world are purging clothes, refolding everything in the dresser drawers, and decluttering areas of their homes not touched in years, many are ignoring a key area that can help especially this time of year. Organizing tax information can make things so much easier in the long run.
From shoeboxes to paper bags, taxpayers have interesting ways of keeping all the documents needed for that visit to see a tax professional or prepare their taxes online. But it’s not just about keeping the right information, but more importantly, keeping it organized in a way that will make things less stressful come tax season.
What to keep
According to experts at The Tax Institute at H&R Block, it is important for taxpayers to keep the following items:
- Anything that reports income, including W-2s, 1099-K or 1099-MISC (for self-employed, freelancers and contractors), partnership income (Schedule K-1), unemployment compensation and state tax refunds (1099-G)
- Marketplace health insurance records proving insured status (Form 1095-A) or exemption status (exemption certificate number)
- Form 1095-B or 1095-C from an employer or private plan confirming health insurance coverage
- Tax reporting documents from banks and investment companies, including retirement plans, such as 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, and 1099-R
- Statements detailing stocks and property sold, such as 1099-B
- Documents showing contributions to a 529 education savings plan
- Receipts, acknowledgment letters, and bank records to substantiate charitable donations
- Statements or receipts showing tuition paid for college and 1098-T
- Statement showing amount of mortgage interest (Form 1098) and substantiation of real estate taxes paid.
Next, an organizational expert shared the best tips on how to categorize receipts and organize tax information in a helpful yet trendy way. Think about it as the Feng Shui of taxes.
Step 1: find the space
According to Mikita Burton, a lifestyle coach and blogger, the first step in organizing taxes also comes down to considering available space.
“If you have a home office, identify one drawer in a file cabinet for current tax-related paperwork and returns from recent years,” said Burton. “If space is limited or if you don’t have a home office, opt for an attractive storage box or portable filing solution that requires little space on a shelf or in a closet. Choose a solution in materials and colors that coordinate with your décor.”
Step 2: choose a storage system