Taxes Don't Have to Be Taxing:

24.03.22 11:08 PM By Shanley

3 Tips for Quick and Easy Tax Prep

“If I were audited by the IRS, I would have to kill myself because I wouldn’t be able to find my returns, let alone my receipts. They’re probably buried in a bag with old lipstick, dead batteries, and some rocks.”--Karen Caig, client in 2021

As a professional organizer, I frequently hear such dramatic exclamations from my clients. This particular client worked with me for five months releasing fifty years’ worth of “stuff” and reorganizing her empty nest. However, you don’t have to make such a huge shift in order to make your life better. Let’s start small. Since tax season is upon us, let’s talk about three simple things you can do to make preparing your taxes– and your life–more simple.

accordion file folder
Photo by Anete Lusina:

Create a Filing System

My husband (the engineer) is always saying, “Prior planning is best done in advance.” To that end, the best way to get organized is to start the year before. We use an accordion style folder and label the sections with the categories we report for taxes. Categories might include the following: 

  • Advertising

  • Contributions

  • Expenses

  • Legal, Prof Services (fees)

  • Mileage

  • Medical

  • Travel

  • Utilities

Whenever we get a receipt for something we want to report on our taxes, we file it into that section. If you always file front to back (in the pocket) you’ll have the added benefit of keeping your receipts in chronological order (that makes my heart happy!) and makes it easier to sort them for taxes. This system doesn’t have to be perfect; just get started and make it work for you. You will likely improve it as the years go on as you continue to file taxes. We definitely have.

desk and working space

Choose a Space and Get It Ready

Identify where you would ideally like to work on your taxes. Could be an office, kitchen table, or even the floor. A flat surface will allow you to spread out your papers and create piles for your tax categories. Now get ready:

  • Clear out anything (or anyone) that might distract you. 

  • Gather up all your paperwork (hopefully in that aforementioned accordion file) to include last year’s tax return. 

  • The IRS also has some great tips on prepping to file your taxes here

If you continually use the accordion file year-round, you should have all of the documents you need to then fill out your tax forms. This prior planning will help eliminate any procrastination that occurs because you’re not sure if you have everything you need. 

overflowing shelves with files

Don’t Keep More Than You Need

Most of my clients think they need to keep 7 years’ worth of tax returns. I am not a CPA, nor do I work for the IRS, but all the information you need is on their website. The IRS says, “Well-organized records make it easier to prepare a tax return and help provide answers if your return is selected for examination or if you receive an IRS notice…. The length of time you should keep a document depends on the action, expense, or event the document records. You must keep your records as long as needed to prove the income or deductions on a tax return.”

A great way to make sure you’re not keeping more documents than you need is to put the current year’s taxes in the folder for the oldest year you’re keeping, and then shred the oldest papers.

For some additional tips on how to handle the emotional and mental side of tax overwhelm, take a look at Karen Caig’s article about “How to Overcome the Overwhelm of Tax Prep.”

As a Certified Personal Stylist, KonMari Consultant, Reiki Master, and Professional Organizer, I can help move easily through Tax Season.

Give me a call or book a consultation and and we can figure out how to make that happen.

Here’s my direct scheduling link:

Until then, move forward with Peace & Grace!