Tax season is a stressful time for us all. With all the invoices, receipts and paperwork you need to keep track of over the year, it’s easy to see how some people misplace important documents and miss out on deductions.
We don’t want you to miss out on anything so to help you stay on top of your taxes, here are our best tips to help you organise yourself for tax season.
Research what you can and cannot claim
Before you begin saving receipts and documents, it’s important to know exactly what you can claim on your taxes and what you cannot. This will help you avoid filing unnecessary documents, and it will make keeping yourself organised much easier as the year goes on.
The best source of information on taxes can be found at the Australian Taxation Office. The website offers plenty of useful information regarding certain deductions and what you’ll need to claim them. Doing the research now will give you a better idea of what you need to prove for certain deductions and which deductions are certainly not doable.
Give everything a place
During the course of the year, you probably think of about four or five different places to put your tax information. Maybe there are a few receipts on your desk in your home office and a few more lying on your bedside table. Having receipts, invoices and documents in too many places means there’s a better chance you’ll forget one document or misplace it entirely.
Create a space for all your documents ahead of time so you always have a place for each document. Some people prefer to use individual folders for each type of document while others used tiered wired basket. Whichever option you choose, be sure to label each folder so you know exactly which document is supposed to go in each folder or basket.
Keep your folder or basket in your home office or on your personal desk or dresser in your bedroom. Make sure your folders and baskets don’t get mixed up with any homework piles or organisation baskets that your children use.
Organise electronic documents
Now more than ever, many tax receipts and important documents are coming through our emails or can be downloaded. While this means that you won’t have as much paperwork clutter, you still need to keep your receipts organised on your computer. If you have multiple computers, this may be a little more complicated.
Your important tax documents should be kept on your personal computer at home, not a work computer. Create a folder within your personal computer’s documents and label it “Taxes_2015” or whatever year you’re working on. Within that folder, create individual folders for documents related to charity donations, property taxes or any other types of deductions that may be coming in. Label each document you add so you have some indication of what the document is for so you’re not confused when it’s time to actually do your taxes.
Do not keep your documents on flash drive or external hard drive. These are easy to lose, and if you lose them, you will have a difficult time completing your tax forms. Avoid using cloud technologies as well. As we’ve seen, these accounts can be hacked, and you don’t want your personal tax documents stolen. Keep everything on your home computer and you should be just fine.
Bag up loose receipts
Some receipts are tiny and easy to lose. To stop them from getting lost in your pile, use a plastic pocket to keep them all from getting lost. Make sure you organise them by month.
Keep a running spreadsheet of expenses
When doing taxes, what most people struggle with is remembering when they made important, financial decisions throughout the year, such as giving large donations to charity or signing a new leases on a flat.
To help yourself keep better track of what you’ve spent and when you spent it, keep a spreadsheet of month-to-month expenses on your home computer. At the end of each month, carve out just 30 minutes for yourself and add up all your expenses and make notes on any big financial payments you made that month.
Once it comes time to actually do your taxes, you’ll remember when you paid school fees or made a large donation to a charity, and you’ll know where you find the receipt.
Keep yourself organised throughout the year, and tax season will be a breeze.