New York City-based Angela Kantarellis is a professional organizer. She founded her business, AKorganizing, in 2006 and since then has helped hundreds of busy New Yorkers get organized both at home and at the office. Angela, who is an active member of the National Association of Professional Organizer, holds a master’s degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research – which must come in handy when dealing with her clients!
With tax deadlines around the corner we asked Angela to help out Lifework readers with a few key organizing tips. Feel free to add your own tips or questions in the comment section. I know Angela would love to hear from you.
The key to a stress free tax season is to have a system in place to collect receipts and tax related documents throughout the year. It’s a classic organizing principle of “a place for everything, everything in its place.”
1. Prepare a Tax Folder in January for the year ahead. Place the folder at the front of one of your file cabinet drawers for super easy access. You want to gather all of your tax related documents in one place throughout the year – even though you won’t necessarily be looking at them till the following January. If you make charitable contributions for example, put the acknowledgment letter into your tax folder. Use a checklist to determine if you have all the documents you need. If your accountant hasn’t given you a check list, use your previous year’s taxes as a guide.
2. Collect receipts in a centralized location. A client of mine who works out of her home office simply puts all receipts in a basket on top of her file cabinet. Once a month she enters the receipts into a spreadsheet. She includes income at the top followed by expenses. At the end of the year she totals each of the categories and voila – she has a list of all of her income and expenses. You can also use a software program like QuickBooks to track income and expenses for your business.
3. Don’t wait till the last minute but if you did…don’t panic. Are your receipts and 1099’s buried under mounds of papers with no records of your income and expenses in sight? There’s still time to get organized. Use the quick sort method to locate your tax related documents. You’ll need a staging area – an area to do all of your sorting. Gather all your receipts in one pile. Sort by category. Total all of your categories. Enter into a spreadsheet. Locate your end of year credit card statements. Highlight tax deductible expenses. Add to your spreadsheet. Review your checkbooks. Pull out personal expenses such as medical and education that can be deducted. Add to spreadsheet. Do the same for business expenses. Not sure what’s deductible? Use last year’s tax return as a guide.