With the onslaught of tax time paperwork upon us, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by a chaotic workspace piled high with papers. That's why we recommend taking preemptive action: implementing an easy yet effective organization system for tax forms, receipts, and other items. And while that system may vary from person to person, the important thing is to make it work for YOU.
To make it simple, here are a few helpful tips...
Assess the situation
If you're filling out a (fairly) simple 1040EZ form, you most likely won't need a complex filing system, so just a basic folder or pouch will do the trick. But if you'll need to keep track of numerous receipts and other documents, a more specialized filing system (such as a filing cabinet or file box with tabbed folders) works best. Choosing the right system based on your needs will help eliminate any unnecessary stress and make the process go much quicker.
Be mindful of your space
The size of your workspace also plays an important role in your organization style. There's obviously no point in adding a big filing cabinet to your office space if you don't have room for it, so plan according to the space you do have available. For instance, if you don't have any open floor space for files, consider a hanging file organizer or wall pocket; these items keep everything easily accessible and tidy while also saving you space. And in the event that have someone else do your taxes, a portable file tote can also be a smart option.
When setting up your filing system, be sure to create categories that make the process simpler, not more complicated. Possible categories include "tax forms," "receipts," "investments," "charitable donations," etc. Your labeling system should be rigid enough to keep everything in order, but flexible enough to alter as-needed. (This is where erasable labels might come in handy!)
Don't deviate from the system
Most importantly, once you have your organizational system in place, stick to it! After all, it won't do you any good unless you continually put it into practice!
Even better--stick to the system all year long by filing everything as it comes it. That way, when next year's tax time rolls around, you'll already to ready to go!