The time of year that many people dread is here… tax season! March and April are considered to be “peak” tax season, so if you haven’t begun preparing, now is the time to get started! Although you have until Tuesday, April 18th to file, it’s better to get a head start to avoid unnecessary stress.
The amount of paperwork to be found and organized can surely be overwhelming, so here are some downsizing tips for a stress-free tax season!
DECLUTTER YOUR DESK
Before you begin doing anything, clean off your desk. I think we can all agree that a cluttered desk can slow down any project. There is no better time than tax season to organize your workspace by purging unwanted items and returning all office supplies, magazines, books, and miscellaneous items to their designated homes.
**Try to get into the habit of doing this daily so it remains organized for consistent productivity.
Anything that you are not actively using can be relocated to a drawer or file cabinet. The top of your workspace should only have must-have items that you use on a daily basis. It’s important to start tax preparation with a clean slate!
Ok, well, maybe not like that! 🤣
GET YOUR DOCUMENTS IN ORDER
Whether you are hiring a CPA or going the DIY route, you will need to get your tax documents and financial records in order before filing. It’s time to start chipping away on the paper pile that’s been sitting on your kitchen counter for weeks!
For some tips on dealing with the documents that aren’t necessarily tax-related, check out our blog post “Take Action and Tackle Your Paper Clutter” for step-by-step instructions on decluttering and downsizing paperwork.
First, designate an easy-to-access place for all of your receipts and tax documents, whether it be a drawer, filing cabinet, or shelf — just make sure you keep them all together. I suggest grouping your documents by category (income, education, child care, investments, etc.) in labeled file folders. Securing them with a paperclip and labeling them with a post-it note works fine too!
Next, create a list of things needed for each of your IRS forms and for your itemized deductions — I suggest using Excel or Google Sheets to do this, but good ol’ paper and pen works too. This will prevent you from scrambling around looking for important information (i.e. social security numbers, addresses, etc.) during the filing process.
Lastly, scan or take a picture of your tax-related documents and receipts in the event they got lost or are accidentally discarded.
SHRED OUTDATED / IRRELEVANT DOCUMENTS
Downsize your paper clutter by shredding it! Who doesn’t like a good shredding party?
The IRS has a period of limitations that apply to tax records, which you can read about here. If you are past the period of limitations for your particular situation, feel free to shred those records. If you don’t feel comfortable having a backup of your tax records, you can always scan them and save them onto your computer before shredding them.
Did you know that the IRS accepts scanned and digital receipts for tax purposes? There is no better way to downsize your documents than to go digital! All of that paper clutter is just taking up valuable room in your file cabinet.
Remember these downsizing and organizational tips for next year! Now that you know how to keep your paperwork and office organized, you’ll be ready to file your return with ease in 2024. The key is to stay organized throughout the year so you won’t feel stressed come tax time.
Do you have any additional downsizing (and organizing) tips for a stress-free tax season? We’d love to hear them!
If you feel like you need help downsizing and organizing your tax documents (or all your documents) find a Professional Organizer near you at www.napo.net!
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Here’s to a stress-free tax season!
By: Nicole Ramer, CPO®, SMM~C®
(Certified Professional Organizer® & Certified Senior Move Manager®)
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