Thursday, January 2, 2014

7 Steps to easier tax filing {with FREE Printables!}

A few years ago when I was getting ready to file taxes, I realized that the week plus of work it took me to gather and organize all of our data could be cut down if I organized it differently. Half the battle each year was remembering where I found certain information and where all the receipts were stashed. Now I have check lists so that I know when all of our forms have come in the mail, and I can easily gather the rest of the information and "get 'er done!" Easier taxes, yes please! Here's how you can do the same.

Step 1: The 3 ring binder. A 2" binder works for us, and we have a lot of things to track.


(I love binders. I also love my labeler.)

Step 2: Divide the notebook into the sections of the tax form.

Add a front section "Return Copies" for a place to keep the printed copies of your filed return until you are done and ready to file it away.

The main sections of a tax return are Income and Deductions.

When you came across a sub-section where the information would be too big to keep in the main divider, create a sub-section. Below, Business is a sub-section of Income, and Charity is a sub-section of Itemized Deductions. I have a sub-category after Charity for an organization that I have several donations and mileage to track.


Step 3: Create a cover sheet with a list of the items needed for that section.
{TIP: I created a printable at the bottom of the post to make this even easier for YOU!}
Itemized Deductions cover sheet
Step 4: Pull all of your records and receipts together and put them into the appropriate sections. Going forward, as statements and paperwork come in during the year, hole punch them, put them in the right section, and check them off. The items above with lines are amounts to pull from our records.
{TIP: When I have receipts or small forms, I tape them on to an 8.5x11" piece of paper. Make sure you note important information about the receipt so you remember at the end of the year!}
{TIP: We used Quicken for years. Now we use YNAB which I find simpler, especially for budgeting. YNAB is also available for your phone/tablet, so you can have your categories and amounts wherever you are shopping.}

Step 5: Once your records and receipts are pulled together from all of the different places, make a list for the front of the notebook with what data needs to be pulled and where to get it from. This list will make it much easier to zip through and print off what you need, add it to the sections, and then you are ready to run through your tax forms with all the info in one place!


Step 6: I love using Turbo Tax to complete and file our tax forms. It guides you through the tax forms step-by-step and imports your basic info from last year. If you have someone who prepares your taxes for you, you can just hand the binder over to them!

Step 7: Once your taxes have been filed and you've paid or received your refund, take all of the pages from the binder and use round head fasteners to create a neat bundle to file away. Print out a new set of cover sheets and you are ready to go for next year!



Bonus Step: Relax and know that with this preparation, next year your taxes will be even easier!

{A FREE printable of the cover sheets is available in 3 formats so that you can make adjustments to fit your finances. Right click on the links below, and click "Save link as".
                           Word Doc                      OpenDoc Format
This is not meant to be tax advice. Be sure to go over these with your financial professional to make sure everything is covered for your tax situation.}

Do you have questions or suggestions to make it even easier? Please share them in the comments below!

1 comment:

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