Getting Ready for Tax Time

You will need:
1.an inexpensive cardboard filing box to hold file folders
2.a box of file folders
3.a fireproof box with a lock for valuable papers
4.a loose leaf notebook with filler paper
5.dividers for notebooks (optional).

The file box should include all current material. There should be separate files for:
1.the house or apartment where you live
2.each rental property
3.each bank account
4.each insurance company
5.each vehicle
6.each utility company
7.warranties and product instruction book
8.periodical subscriptions
9.employee benefits packages/information
10.health records
11.each credit card, bank loan, etc.
12.each pet file
13. any/all business expenses

Your notebook should include:
1.goals list
2.personal directory, list of family and friends who should be notified in the event of your death or catastrophe
3.professional directory, include every profession involved in your affairs (physician, clergy, accountant, lawyer, banker, broker, etc. )
4.list of credit cards
5.list of bank & brokerage accounts
6.location of documents
7.monthly spending plans
8.list of what is in your wallet
9.net worth statement

It is also recommended that you keep these personal documents, if you have them, in a fireproof, locked box:

1.birth, baptism and marriage certificates
2.social security cards
3.passports
4.insurance policies
5.wills and living wills
6.power of attorney
7.divorce decree
8.military discharge papers
9.naturalization papers
10.diplomas, awards

As you get older or as your finances become more complex, add these to your box or even rent a safety deposit box:

1.land abstracts, deeds, title policies
2.appraisals of personal property
3.bills of sale
4.bonds, certificates of deposit
5.individual retirement accounts
6.legal agreements
7.personal property pictures/inventory
8.securities, stock certificates
9.property tax receipts
10.family death certificates

Here’s a ‘Rule of thumb’ for knowing what to save:
If it is used for income tax purposes, it must be saved for seven years. Your paycheck stubs can be thrown out after you receive your employer forms and check the numbers. You may want to keep utility bill stubs for a year for comparison or house sale purposes. Keep records of purchases until the account has been paid and the last check clears the bank. Having the right information at hand is half the battle when doing your taxes.

This checklist is a guide to help you prepare …

Social Security Numbers (including spouse and children)
Child care provider tax I.D. or Social Security Number
Employer forms (W-2 in the US,TD-1 in Canada) forms for this year
Residential address(es) for this year
Mortgage interest Form
Sale of your home or other real estate form
Second mortgage interest paid
Real estate taxes paid
Rent paid during tax year
Moving expenses
Interest income statements form
Dividend income statements form
Proceeds from broker transactions
Tax refunds & unemployment payments
Miscellaneous income including rent
Retirement plan distribution
Auto loans and leases (account numbers and car value) if vehicle used for business
Student loan interest paid
Personal property tax information
Gifts to charity (receipts for any single donations of $25 or more)
Unreimbursed expenses related to volunteer work
Unreimbursed expenses related to your job (travel expenses, uniforms, union dues, subscriptions)
Investment expenses
Job-hunting expenses
Education expenses
Child care expenses
K-1s on all partnerships
Receipts or documentation for business-related expenses
Tax contributions already made
Medical expenses
Casualty or theft losses
Any other miscellaneous deductions
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Author Marilyn Guille owns Comprehensive Virtual Editing (CoVE) Services, which provides press release writing and distribution, general and business writing, editing, and ghostwriting services. Guille has been a professional freelance writer for two decades, and lives on a classic boat on which she and her husband do sightseeing charters. You can check out her website at http://www.coveservices.net