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March 07, 2018 | Posted in:

Restoring Order to the 1040: Tips for Staying Organized at Tax Time

Organizing your tax records not only makes filing your tax return easier, it also helps you find the financial documents you need through the year. Whether you’ve already filed your tax return or are about to, here are some tips to get organized.

Preparing your 2017 Tax Return? Here’s What You Need

 

Follow the Sequential Order

Try organizing your records in the same order as they are required to fill out your 1040 individual tax return, using these categories:

 

Income.

Copies of W-2s, 1099s, Social Security statements, interest income and investment income.

Charitable donations.

Charitable donation receipts, separated by cash and noncash contributions. Include a copy of your charitable activity mileage log, if you have one.

Medical and dental.

All documents related to medical expenses. You may also include a note calculating your medical deduction threshold (which is 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income during 2017 and 2018).

Other itemized deductions.

All proof of other itemized deductions, including state and local tax statements, mortgage interest, casualty and theft losses, unreimbursed business expenses and other miscellaneous itemized deductions. Note that miscellaneous itemized deductions are eliminated after the 2017 tax year, but keep any records for this tax season on file.

Business and hobby activity.

Keep separate records for each hobby and business activity. Include records of related investments, expenses and mileage logs.

Education.

Records of all education expenses, including invoices, tuition, materials (including for things such as books or music instruments) and fees.

Investments.

Records of investments in tax-advantaged retirement accounts, as well as contributions to investable accounts such as health savings accounts (HSAs) and 529 education savings plans. Also include records of capital gains and losses, particularly for tax-loss harvesting purposes.

Odds and ends.

Put all the miscellaneous receipts that don’t fit anywhere else into this file. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get tax breaks for a variety of expenses.

Download our Individual Tax Prep Checklist

 

Organization Guidance [Infographic]

The following infographic from our affiliate Alloy Silverstein Financial Services, Inc. offers some suggestions to help take time off of preparing your taxes:


Alloy Silverstein Financial Services - 6 Easy Organization Tips

It’s Tax Time! 6 Organization Tips to Take Time off of Taxes [Infographic]

 

 

Bonus Tax Time Tips

 

How long should you keep your records?

For tax filings, the IRS requires you to keep your records on hand for at least three years after you file. Some states require you to keep records longer than that, and the federal government can ask you to keep records for six years if you understate your income.

Keep track by going digital.

If keeping track of your tax records year after year sounds like a chore, at least things are easier in the digital age. You can scan your paper records and keep them digitally, but remember to keep your records backed up and secure from identity theft. Learn more about the benefits of cloud storage and paperless processes.

Create a checklist.

If you’re still waiting for some tax forms to arrive, go back to last year’s return and make a checklist of all the forms you received. Add items for any new accounts or vendors you added since then, and check off the forms as they arrive, especially if you started making supplemental income from a side gig last year.

Additional tax season FAQs.

What do I need to know for 2017 vs. 2018? When is the last day to do my taxes? Is Social Security taxed? These questions and more our addressed in our post, Top Questions Being Asked This Tax Season.

 

South Jersey CPAs and Tax Preparers

April 17, 2018 is only a short time away. If you’re in need of an accountant and advisor that can help you confidently prepare and file tax returns for your business and/or family, connect with an Alloy Silverstein CPA today.

The information contained in this newsletter is of a general nature and should not be acted upon in your specific situation without further details and/or professional assistance. For more information or for assistance with any of your tax or business concerns, contact our office at 856.667.4100.

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