Congratulations, you’ve finally made it. You’ve sifted through all of those old receipts, found bills from services you forgot you had eight months ago, put it all together in a nice little folder for your accountant or — if you’re super skilled, you even plugged those little numbers in yourself.
Tax season is over, beyotches! And whether you’re getting a healthy return or happen to owe the government some cash, at this point, aren’t you just darned happy that it’s done? Because this is no longer you.
Neither is this.
Wanna know the really good news? This never has to be you again.
We know, the last thing we want to be thinking about right now is our next tax return either. But now that 2014 is officially done, why not kickstart the 2015 filing year off on the right foot? That way, when next year’s deadline comes up, this will be all of us instead.
All you have to do is take a few simple organizational steps.
Buy some pretty file folders
Okay, they don’t have to be pretty, but isn’t it nicer when we have pretty things? Plain ones will do, or you can even fancy them up yourself by gluing the front of them with funky designs.
Once you’re good to go you’ll want to label them accordingly into “taxable” categories. Personal health receipts for prescriptions and dental; car costs and maintenance; insurance; pension statements; home renovations; home office purchases; any work-related phone bills or travel costs, etc. You probably have the best idea of your own needs.
Be sure to grab yourself a nice organizer, too
Why? Because again, we like pretty things. Also because you’re going to need somewhere to keep all of those folders. Sure, a regular old box will do, but where’s the fun in that? If you want to be really fancy, you could always invest in one of these file folder purses, too.
Stylish and organized! Look at you.
Store them somewhere that’s easy to access
Want to know the problem with tossing that tax box up onto the highest shelf in the closet? You’re never going to want to go up there and get it down. As a result, receipts will pile up in your pockets, purses, wallets and various junk drawers around the house. Instead, try putting it inside the front hall closet. Or, on a shelf in the bedroom closet that’s within easy reach.
Get into the habit of putting things in their right place
This one is a lot easier said than done. If you’re the type of person who always wonders how your purse got so heavy or why your wallet is bulging over again, try to set aside 1-15 minutes at least once a week to sort through everything. Keep your trusty little box (or filing purse!) beside you while you do it to make sure the stuff you need to keep isn’t just transferred somewhere else.
Keep all of your pay stubs. All. Of. Them.
It may seem pointless since you’re going to get a T4 next year anyhow, right? Wrong. Sometimes T4s get lost, don’t come or are buried on someone’s desk who used to work at the company. Although it is against the law for your employer to not send you one by a designated time, you don’t want to have to file late on someone else’s account.
And finally, keep a ledger
This is the one that sucks to remember most, but makes things super-duper easy come tax time if you start doing it now. Keep a simple Excel sheet of your expenses and income and by next year, you won’t have to do much math at all (and your accountant can’t charge you nearly as much for having to sift through all that extra paperwork!).