4 Steps to Early Bird Tax Prep

Yep. You read that right. Time to start my 2013 Taxes.
taxes6Every year, I do it. I put off doing my taxes until a few weeks before tax day. And, every year I ask myself why I waited so long. See in my mind it seems like it’s going to be this really long and hard process, so I move it from this week’s list to next week’s, etc. The truth is our taxes are not that complicated and we always get money back. So why do I put it off!? And… how do I motivate myself to just get in there and do them?

Well, like most things in my life, I think that a simple system will do the trick.

After I finished our taxes this year, I decided to write myself a little prep list for next year. Some basic instructions may just make me jump on those taxes rather than think about it for months. So with just 4 easy steps, I am making next year’s tax filing E-Z… and I don’t even use that form.

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1. DROP BOX
I created a “Taxes” box with super easy access to gather items as they come in. You might recognize this from the Dining Room Closet. The box has a lid so nothing gets lost. It’s at eye level where I will see it often to be reminded, unlike a pile or file folder.
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2. REFERENCE DETAILS
I save the copy of last years return on my computer as well as a printed copy. I like to file all our paperwork from that year in a large mailing envelope (you can see that in the picture above). I write the year on the outside. I laid this envelope at the bottom of the box so I don’t have to go looking for that next year. 2011 envelopes and prior are filed for safe keeping. I also write my login info. and all the details I need for online filing on the envelope for quick reference.  Sorry I can’t share that with you all. You understand.

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3. DEDCUTION ENVELOPES
Rather than throw important receipts straight in the box, I created a few envelopes ahead of time to hold the receipts I am expecting. I can keep a tally on the outside throughout the year, or total them up at the end of the year.  You can see that some of the envelopes are already in use. These items include: tools and uniforms for work, conference receipts, goodwill donations, etc. I put all my other receipts into monthly envelopes in case I need them. I will trash all unused receipts at the end of the year. (I have been doing this system for a long time and it works for me).
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4. PAPERWORK CHECKLIST
I quickly wrote a checklist of items I needed before starting my taxes. I always seem to be missing one or two things, this list should solve that delay. So, these are the documents and paperwork I need to gather next January. The list is nothing fancy and it’s not even typed up, it is just a quick list meant to be save time next year. (Dang, I noticed that I missed Charitable Giving from the list after I snapped this picture.)
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With only 10-15 minutes of work, I have myself all prepped and systemized for next tax season. All the above items are safely tucked in the box. While no two completed tax forms look alike, I am certain that you can craft a simple plan for yourself too. I challenge you to take a few minutes to plan ahead, save your stuff in one place and make a checklist. It is amazing what a little prep can bring peace, even a year out!

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