It’s that time of year when “Finish my taxes” gets added to to-do lists across America. It’s not a particularly glamorous or fun activity. But, the outcome often sparks joy! In fact, 75% of Americans that file receive a refund. Whether you prepare your own taxes or outsource, here are some tips to help you declutter your tax preparation once and for all:
Visualize yourself finishing the task all at once and ahead of schedule. Tax prep leads to a high level of anxiety, partly because there are so many unknowns. Over a third of Americans wait until the last minute to file. Instead of simply taking action, we block progress with “what if’s”…What if it takes me a long time to find that receipt? What if I don’t get the refund I was expecting? What if I can’t complete everything by April 15? Rather than focusing on what you can’t control or change, schedule it out! Make it a priority to dedicate one or two blocks of tax time well in advance of the deadline and visualize yourself completing the task with ease and on-time.
Gather documentation to one location. Extract tax documents that have been in hibernation all year before you get started. Remember, documents can hide in your desk, in a folder, or digitally stored on your computer, email account or phone. Include everything from W-2’s to receipts from tax deductible donations.
Keep only what sparks joy, or in this case, what’s required for record keeping. Keep income tax returns for three years from the date the return was filed. This includes supporting documents (receipts, cancelled checks or other documents that support income or a deduction on your tax return). Keep supporting documents three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid. Click here for additional guidelines on record keeping. And remember, letting go of outdated tax information is a way to put your past in order. The process can help you acknowledge and honor your financial history and move forward towards abundance.
Start prepping for next year’s tax season now. Dedicate one, centralized location in your home to collect tax documents as they accumulate throughout the year. This includes digital file storage. Use programs such as It’s Deductible to track charitable donations and Evernote or CamScanner apps to save images of receipts. Complement your tax prep by applying the KonMari Method to your paper clutter. Approach the selection processes with the commitment of getting rid of all paper that doesn’t have a clear purpose – paper you are currently using and requires immediate attention (pending action), paper you will need for a limited period (contractual documents), and paper that you need to keep indefinitely (keepsakes).
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