It is that time of year. We have a pit of dread for that looming tax deadline. Why the dread? For many it is about the paper piles we have to sift, the files we must conquer, and the sometimes false promises we make to ourselves to do better next year.
Make this your year! Now is the perfect time to make some sense of all the piles and folders. You already have to dig in to them, courtesy of the tax deadline. You'll thank yourself not only for tax season next year, but for those other times when fast access to data matters. And who can't benefit from reduced paperwork stress?
My 3 Tax Tips for You
Not sure where to start? Or how to really tackle that overwhelming pile teetering on your desk? I have three of my own specific tips for you!
According to Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports, there are also four key guidelines to consider when organizing your paperwork.
1. Data to keep for less than a year
This includes financial receipts (bank-deposits, ATM receipts, etc.), insurance policies, and investment statements. Once you reconcile your financial receipts you can shred those (or store securely in an electronic format). Commit that when your new insurance policies arrive in the mail that you trade out the old with the new.
2. Data to keep for a year or more
Keep loan documents until paid in full, vehicle titles until sold, investment confirmations until sold (to help establish cost basis), etc.
3. Data to keep for seven years
The tax rule of thumb is seven years, as the government has six years to collect back taxes or start proceedings against you in certain situations. Invest in a solid storage box for paper files and keep electronic files on a back-up disk. Who doesn't have a computer crash in seven years?!
4. Data to keep forever
Forever is a long time. But records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, Social Security cards, and military paperwork should be kept for forever and a day. These are the kinds of documents that are essential for significant processes, like making difficult decisions during illnesses, etc. Keep a file with these documents for your own sanity and the peace of mind of those close to you.
Now that you have the tips of the trade, get started on your tax prep and give yourself the treat of paperwork organization (trust me - next year you will love yourself for it!).
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Tammy Schotzko is a Certified Professional Organizer who