We know it needs to be done, but many of us look at it like our kids look at a big test or term paper – we try to duck it as long as possible, because we think it will be too big and scary and take too long to finish. And it spoils all the fun of the “right now!”
Tax preparation for single moms doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to loom over your head like a term paper. Start to get organized, stay organized during the year, and tax preparation will be no big deal. First, how to organize your paperwork and receipts.
Organize Your Paperwork for Easier Tax Preparation
Set up a system at the beginning of the year to keep track of papers, receipts, etc. I have a “Taxes” file folder I keep in the top tray of my desk’s stack tray, along with my “To Be Paid” folder and my “To Be Filed” folder. Learn more about streamlining paperwork here: Organizing a Home Filing System. When I come across a form, receipt, etc. I will need for my tax preparation, I put it into the “Taxes” folder. I don’t have a great deal of tax paperwork to keep track of each year, so a file folder works just fine for me. If you have more paperwork to wrangle, use an expanding file or accordion file with several folders/sections. Divide your sections/folders into things like medical receipts, donations, W-2’s or 1099’s, etc.
Here are some categories for tax paperwork:
- Earnings (W-2’s, 1099’s, Dividends, etc.)
- Medical/Dental receipts
- Dependent Information and Forms
- Home Ownership (property tax receipts, mortgage interest statements, receipts for energy-saving home improvements, etc.)
- Health Insurance Forms
- Childcare Expenses
- Educational Expenses
- Job Expenses and Tax Prep Fees
- State and Local Taxes/Sales Tax
- Retirement and Other Savings (IRA/HSA, etc.)
You may not need to use all these categories. This is just a basic list; it is by no means comprehensive. But this should at least get you headed in the right direction.
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Consider adding a checklist to the inside of the folder to help you round up paperwork/receipts during the month of January. List the types of forms/receipts and check them off when you put them in the folder. Then you will know at a glance if you have all the necessary forms/papers in one place. And you won’t get halfway through your tax preparation and find that you’re missing a vital piece of information.
You can go to the H&R Block website to create your own checklist. Just answer a few questions, and you get a handy checklist of items you will need to gather to make sure you pay only what you owe, and get the biggest refund possible.
“The key to success … is to get in the habit of dealing with and filing your tax documents and receipts on a regular basis, so they don’t pile up, and you forget what a certain receipt or piece of paper signifies, or lose it in a pile of stuff.”
You can read more of their ideas here.
My taxes are done by my family’s accountant (I have to have them done that way, since I am a shareholder in the farm – my personal taxes are tied up in the farm’s taxes), so I need to have all my paperwork pulled together, ready to submit to the accountant. Knowing what I need and being able to lay my hands on it, are crucial during tax preparation time.