Authored by Robert Blakely, CFP®, AIF®, ChFC®
It is that time of year again. A time of year when you would rather be doing something, anything other than filing your taxes. This is a great time, however, as you are gathering and organizing your tax documents to also set up a financial organization system. Here are some things that may be helpful when organizing not only your tax documents but your financial planning documents.
Have a Proper Filing System
One of the most overwhelming things about filing taxes is dealing with the huge amounts of paperwork. Though emails and online documents are making it easier, you still need to ensure that you have all the important documents organized and easily accessible. Keep your files close to where you do all your work to ensure easy access and avoid the possibility of misplaced files and documents.
Creating Your Files
The simpler you keep your documents, the easier they will be to file and retrieve at any time. Write down each category and label documents accordingly. Color coordinate to make it easier to find the category you are looking for.
Now that you have your filing system in place, you can easily categorize your papers.
- Income and Investment Information
- W-2 – showing your earnings and what was withheld for taxes
- Taxable alimony, jury duty records, hobby income and expenses
- Bank or financial institution statements
- Did you make contributions to an IRA? (Form 5498)
- Are you paying down student load debt? (Form 1098-E)
- Did you take out a home mortgage? (Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement)
- Last year’s state refund amount – If you itemize your deductions, then your state refund is considered income for tax purposes.
- Other miscellaneous income – This could include award money, gambling winnings, lottery payouts, etc.
- Any and all Form 1099s
- This file will include all types of insurance: car, life, health, home and other insurance policies.
- Paid taxes and tax returns
- When you properly document all the taxes you have paid, it can prevent overpaying. Include all real estate taxes, state and local income taxes and personal property taxes.
- Keep a copy of state taxes for your vehicles.
- Claim the actual expenses of your vehicles if allowed. You should keep all gas receipts, maintenance and washing. Tolls and parking receipts are needed as well.
- You must provide the record for mileage when using your vehicle for business purposes. Record the beginning mileage on January 1st and store it in the file so you know where to go at the end of the year with your ending mileage.
- Keep your childcare expenses in this file. If you utilize a childcare provider, keep their tax ID number or SS number.
- Keep receipts for any physical or monetary donations you have made. In the case of itemizing, you need to document what you have given with the date of donation and the name and address of the organization.
- Health, Dental and Other Medical Expenses
- Keep all health insurance costs and receipts for all unreimbursed medical expenses. These could include exams, surgeries and preventative care. It could also include braces, glasses, hearing aids, prescriptions and transportation to and from treatment.
- Form 1095 – Health Insurance Coverage Forms
- Personal Information
- Store your social security cards, birth, death, marriage, divorce certificates, prenuptial agreements, etc. for all family members.
- Social Security Information
- If you receive Social Security, you will receive an SSA-1099 in January showing the total amount of benefits you received for the year.
- Self-Employment and Business Records (where applicable)
- Business Expense Records
- Quarterly Estimated Tax Payment Receipts
- Mileage Records
- Estate Documents
- Wills, Power of Attorneys, Health Care Power of Attorneys, Living Wills, Trusts
- Keep all these for all family members in one place for easy access
- Logins & Passwords
- Best practice is to write down your passwords and keep them in a safe place
- Using a password manager to keep track of your logins and passwords can be helpful
- Avoid using obvious personal information as a password
By following these tips, becoming well organized and keeping everything in one place you won’t dread tax time as much.
Check with your tax professional for guidance on your specific tax situation and for policies and regulations that may pertain to you.
Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.
ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP® is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Ln., Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262. He is the founder and president of Blakely Financial, Inc. celebrating 25 years in business.
Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser.