I do not file my own taxes and it still takes me FOREVER to get all my papers together for my home appointment with the “tax man.” Since I started using a personal accountant, I pay more for filing my taxes, but get MUCH more back in returns. My taxes are not simple, because I do a little of everything online which causes TOO much paperwork! I sell Advocare, buy tickets for a ticket broker, run BlogWithMom, review websites, run affiliate marketing ads and sell JewelryInCandles and Norwex Cleaning Supplies. My husband writes BlogWithDad.com, advertises his books on FreeAverageJoe.com, is a manager at an oil company and has investments. If it were just my husband’s papers from his job, it wouldn’t be so CRAZY, but all these papers together are outrageous! My accountant left my house with a bundle of papers that were at least 4 to 5 inches tall. This is the reason why I have a personal accountant. He left today saying that my next step is a hiring a book keeper and I am not ready for that, so we’ll just add “book keeping” to my list of responsibilities.
All year I keep my papers in a drawer in preparation for tax time. I worked on nothing but organizing papers and receipts yesterday for 12 hours! I use plastic sleeve covers and organize them in a trapper keeper in order to keep everything organized for my meeting with the accountant. He comes to my home and finds what I am missing and sits at the table while I run back through my MANY files hunting everything down. This year I only have two items to hunt down and then I am done! I found all sorts of papers in my files that were outdated and set my son to work at the shredded with all my old bank statements, insurance policies and bills that were ready to be thrown out. I have had my paper shredder for over a year now and love it. It sits on my kitchen counter hidden behind the toaster oven.
Here are a few things that might help you in organizing your tax papers.
If you need to print statements from credit cards or your bank, you need to submit a request now. I was missing two credit card statements and I tried printing them an hour before the accountant arrived and was told that it takes 24 -48 hours to retrieve statements that go back to January 2011. So now I have to wait and forward these to the accountant when they become available.
Get the clear covers that fit in a spiral notebook and organize everything in them. For example, I had one clear cover for my tax papers and one for my husband. I had one clear cover for business expenses and one for investment expenses. I also had one cover for all my donation receipts, whether it was a donation to St. Baldricks or a donation slip to the Women’s Shelter.
If you have your hand into as many endeavors as I do, DON’T do your taxes yourself! My husband’s company used to issue stock and one year we didn’t get everything turned in. Just a simple mistake, but we were audited and the mistake was caught. Instead of going into a nervous breakdown, I called the accountant, he cleared it up, we paid the charge and everything was taken care of.
Having an accountant insures that everything has been filed correctly. It is just like performing heart surgery – I wouldn’t want to attempt it myself!