HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
And, by the way, forget the resolutions. Who ever thought up that idea, anyway?
But here is one thing you can do in three minutes or less that can make a real difference for you this year. Not kidding. Right now. Read this, and then run to find your nearest file folder, oversized envelope, or empty box. Yes, you can even repurpose a gift box if you need to.
Label this folder, oversized envelope, or gift box with a thick, dark marker: TAXES, 2011.
Set this folder, envelope, or box aside in your home office, or near where you process your mail. If you share your home, let your spouse know where this is and what it is for. Start filling it with items you might need to file your taxes this year. You’ll start gettting these items in mid-January, possibly through February. You might already have a few receipts or pages to add right now. But if not, you’ll find them over the next few weeks. When you find stuff that is or might be tax related, just pop it in here without worrying about organizing it. Get something in email that you might need? Save your sanity today by actually printing it out and popping it in the safe spot you just created. Do you run a small, disorganized business from home? Start pulling all of your records together now, and you’ll have what you need come crunch time.
Important tax records include W2’s, 1099’s, receipts for charitable gifts and donations, 529 records (contributions or expenses), end of year banking statements, refinance records, energy-saving home improvement records from the past year, and, of course, any unreimbursed work expenses. If you aren’t sure whether it might be tax-related, pull out last year’s (2010) tax return and use that as a guide.
Don’t organize this stuff until you get ready to prepare your taxes; you are weeks away from that. Right now, you are just trying to corral the little buggers that you’ll need for your 1040.
There. Done. You’re all organized, and it’s only day 2 of the new year. Good for you!