KEEPING GOOD RECORDS
One of the best things you can do tax wise that is also part of good stewardship is to keep good records.
An expandable file might be good to get started and also if you want it to be easily portable, but in most cases a two drawer file cabinet might work best. I have some hanging folders in my file cabinet which I can drop manila folders into to further divide & organize a category. An example would be receipts. My wife is often asking me if I saved the receipt for something or if I might need it to return something; so there’s a manila folder for general receipts, a manila folder for charity receipts, and a folder for utility invoices. This comes in handy if you have a home office & want to deduct home office expenses. Quicken is a program that’s quite helpful, not only for balancing my checking account, but also for generating reports of different categories. At the end of the year all you have to do is pull out the folder & add up the receipts. This way you don’t miss something you could have deducted, and if you get called for an audit, you have all the receipts to back up the deductions you’ve taken.
You need to take the time to write things down and save the receipts until you can put them in that file. Keep track of volunteer expense, volunteer milage, medical expense & medical milage. If you have self-employment income, you need to have a milage book to keep a written record of milage & expenses.
Documents you need to bring to your tax appointment
- Social security cards yours & for all dependents,
- Last years tax return, For new customers - last three years tax return.
- W-2 Statements (Wage statements)
- 1099-INT (Interest on savings accounts)
- 1099-DIV (Dividend statements)
- All other 1099’s
- 1098 from Mortgage and home equity loans,
- Receipts for cash & non-cash charity donations,
- Total of volunteer milage, - PLEASE keep a milage record,
- If you sold stock, you need to know it’s cost basis. That is how much you paid for it plus any dividends you received in order to determine your profit.
- Car registration card (amount of tax based on assessed value.),
- Amounts paid for college tuition, (education credit)
- Total of business miles driven for business purposes - again PLEASE keep a milage record.
Click here for more information for self-employed and what records you should keep.
Why Keep Records?
One well known author wrote, “If you don’t write it down, it never happened.”
Written records help us remember what we did & prove income & expenses for taxes..
KEEPING GOOD RECORDS
You can avoid headaches at tax time by keeping track of your receipts and other records throughout the year. Good record-keeping will help you remember the various transactions you made during the year, which in turn may make filing your return a less taxing experience.
Records help you document the deductions you’ve claimed on your return. You’ll need this documentation should the IRS select your return for examination. Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents — such as records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRA and business or rental property — should be kept longer.
In most cases, the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally speaking, however, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return:
· Credit card and other receipts
· Mileage logs
· Canceled, imaged or substitute checks or any other proof of payment
· Any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your return.
Good record-keeping throughout the year saves you time and effort at tax time when organizing and completing your return. If you hire a paid professional to complete your return, the records you have kept will assist the preparer in quickly and accurately completing your return.