As income tax season creeps forward, many of us wince at the thought of dealing with bursting glove compartments or drawers of faded disorganized receipts, missing electronic documents and the ensuing weekend or evenings spent slaving over the associated paperwork and electronic chores.
Here are 8 tips to help you stay organized and stress-free while filing your taxes:
- Whether you receive your bills electronically or via the mail, make a "TO PAY" folder (in your inbox or a file at your desk) to pop them in as they arrive. When it's time to pay your bills they're all in one place and you can be confident that you haven't missed any.
- For your income tax, if there is anything you're not sure how to deal with, don't agonize over it. Stick a post-it outlining the issue onto the paperwork in question and place it in an Income Tax file labeled "Research" or "Ask the accountant."
- Most email software tools have a 'rules' application that will automatically file emails into folders until you are ready to view them. This works well for non-important, frequent emails such as weather notifications or coupon offers. So you can choose to sit in front of the fire with your laptop to look at them at your leisure instead of having an inbox jumbled with unimportant information.
- Keep a few zip lock bags and a pen in your car, briefcase or purse. Each month, label a fresh bag with the date. Anytime you get a receipt, just pop it into the bag and collect the bag at the end of the month, transferring any receipts from your purse or wallet at that time. It will be easier to sort through 30 or 40 receipts at a time rather than 500 at the end of the year.
- For business receipts, try to jot the client name or reason for the purchase onto the receipt when you get it. You'll save tons of time with your claims if you don't have to rely on your memory when you're submitting them.
- Be kind to yourself and schedule a block of quiet time to prepare your taxes or gather paperwork for your tax professional. Most people don't enjoy these projects so arrange for child care, pour yourself a coffee and get it done in a concentrated time rather than attempting to keep your concentration while doing the laundry or driving the kids back and forth to activities.
- If you have older kids, ask them to help you with the work. It's great experience as they enter the working world and they can match receipts to statements or enter gas bills into a spreadsheet. They'll be managing their own finances in a few years so they'll get a birds-eye view and you'll only have to deal with the tougher questions. Win-win!
- Most of all, keep in mind that 'done' is definitely better than 'perfect.' If you have to stress, do it over a big problem and be kind to yourself if you have misplaced a few receipts.
For more information on Professional Organizers in Canada or to find a professional organizer in your area, please visit the POC website at organizersincanada.com
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