The Best Tools for Organizing Taxes, 2019
Happy New Year! We are just a few weeks into 2020, and already, people are starting to think about tax season. Whether you’re interested in getting a jump start on your taxes, or being more organized was on your list of resolutions, don’t worry! BJM – Bach, James, Mansour & Company can help. Here is our advice on tackling your 2019 tax return paperwork.
Create an accessible spot for tax documents
The first step in organizing your tax documents is to create a spot for your paperwork. You want an easily-accessible place to store all of your documents safely. If you can’t easily access it, chances are, you won’t actually use it. Consider a spot like an in-box, shelf, or folder. As soon as you open your mail or unload your receipts, place all of the relevant tax paperwork in that designated area. (Those random business expense receipts that seem to find their way to the bottom of your briefcase — put those in the pile, too).
Group documents by category
Once you have your paperwork all in one place, the next step is to organize those documents. This part of the process can be simple or more complex, depending on the complexity of your tax return or business structure. Try to keep your income paperwork, your deduction papers/receipts, any invoices or business expense receipts, and your credit information grouped together. Here are some suggested categories for grouping your documents:
- Home and Home Office
- Vehicle Expenses and Mileage
- Business Expenses
- Charitable Donations
If you own a business, you should separate your personal tax documents from any paperwork related to your company and its operation. There are several ways you can organize everything, whether that is with separate folders, colorful dividers, paperclips, large envelopes, etc. The specific method doesn’t matter; just make sure you are consistent and keep updating the files as you collect the paperwork. (Me personally, I like to color-code and alphabetize everything, but I realize that everybody has got their own way of doing things).
Check tour 2018 tax returns
Are you ready to begin working on your taxes, but aren’t sure where to start? Take a look at your 2018 income tax return, or your BJM tax organizer. That will help jog your memory about the income and expenses you reported last year, whether business or personal. For example, you might have forgotten about a charitable donation you made earlier in the year or an annual registration fee for a professional organization. You can use the tax return or organizer to identify the items that need updating or even the specific paperwork that you still need to track down.
Mark your calendar with important tax dates
If you are trying to get organized, it also helps to know deadlines for sending or receiving certain paperwork and when your taxes are due. Here are a few important dates to keep in mind:
- January 31, 2020 – Deadline for businesses to send W-2 and 1099 forms. The documents may have gone through email or snail mail, or it could be available online.
- April 15, 2020 – Deadline for submitting your 2019 income tax return. It is also the last day to request a six-month extension. Rember, you still have to pay what you owe!
- If you pay quarterly or estimated taxes, your upcoming filing deadlines are April 15, 2020, June 15, 2020, September 15, 2020, and January 15, 2021.
Need help with your tax return?
If you need help preparing your tax returns, please reach out to the experienced tax and accounting professionals at BJM. For more than 60 years, BJM has been providing tax preparation, tax planning, and financial advice to individuals and businesses. We can’t help with all of your New Year’s resolutions, but we can help you get organized in 2020 and for future tax years. You can reach BJM by calling (678) 551-2900 or by visiting our website.
Neal Bach, CPA