Organize for Tax Time

Miss Money Bee by April Lewis-Parks

It is that taxing time again! If you have not filed yet and are dreading it because you’re not organized, we have some tips from the organizing expert Jennifer Ford Berry, author of the best-selling book Organize Now! A Week-by-Week Guide to Simplify Your Space and Your Life. Ms. Ford gives advice on how to survive tax season without pulling your hair out and how to get your personal finances in order.

Here are some great tax tips to help you through the process:

  1.  The most important step you can take to keeping your taxes organized is to first learn what you should and should not be recording. Set up a folder or filing system to save all tax receipts for the current tax year. When it comes time to prepare your taxes pull out this folder and make sure all paperwork is sorted into categories: W2 forms, Deductions, Investments, etc.
  2.  If you use an accountant call and schedule an appointment today if you have not already! If you need to find an accountant ask friends and family members for referrals.
  3. Are you contributing to your child’s college tuition? Look into the 3 ways you can deduct* this:

    • Hope Credit
    • Lifetime Learning Credit
    • Tuition and Fees Deduction

    *All depend on the year of college and your adjusted growth income.

  4. It will be a lot less overwhelming to get ready for tax season if you push yourself to eliminate paper throughout the year. Make decisions weekly on what paper must be saved for taxes and what you can purge. According to Jennifer Ford Berry, 80% of the paper we save we never need again!
  5. Invest in a receipt scanner that you can use to scan and record receipt deductions throughout the year. NeatReceipts is a good one.
  6. There are now many phone apps to help you keep your finances and tax information organized, and paper free! The Budget Tool app can help you get started.
  7. If you donate time rather than money to an organization you may be able to deduct what is called charitable miles if you drive long distances.

It takes effort to be organized, but it can save you headaches in the long run. Also, I know that getting a fat tax refund each year may be better than owing the IRS, but it may not be the smartest way to save. After all, it represents an interest-free loan to the IRS and you have to wait to get that money back! Use the Withholding Calculator on the IRS website ( or talk with your tax professional about adjusting your withholding so you’ll get more money in your paycheck. Then put that money to work by paying down debt or creating an emergency savings fund!