I don’t dread it anymore.  Once upon a time, I would toss, turn, moan and groan about the need to do my taxes every year.  It all started with a shoe box.  Stuffed with every deductible piece of paper I could find, the largest shoe (boot) box in the house was the epicenter of my tax implosion.  Now, mind you, I was not the custodian of this mountain of hodge-podge WTF-ery. No no, this was my illustrious attempt at organizing everything for my most favorite tax officials in Cheyenne.  Yes, Wyoming.  Trust me, they’re worth it! For the first five years, it was a race to the deadline.  Tax clients need to have our “piles” submitted about three weeks ahead of “T” day in order to get them sorted, compiled and filed by April 15.  Yes, I sweated it each and every time, promising that next year I would do better.  Eventually, I did just that.

For more than twenty years and counting,  my taxes have been  calculated  by a professional.  I highly recommend it if you can swing it; barter with a CPA or tax attorney if necessary. While standard deductions and traditional write offs are currently “the norm”, taxes become more complex if you are a single parent who owns a home, a business and/or have children in college.  It simply exhausted me and drove my anxiety through the roof on a regular basis.

Since 2020 was a daily episode of rinse and repeat, I finally had sufficient time (and energy, what else was I doing?) to get my poop grouped and start tax planning early this year.  I created online folders for my ads, website, software and services purchases.  I’ve started sorting and totaling receipts, sales tax notices and donation contributions.  My goal is to have everything ticked, tied and in the mail by February 15; way ahead of schedule.  I want to put last year in the rearview mirror and watch it fade away like a bad boo boo – including the loss of all of my tax deductions that miraculously  disappeared with it.  (Seriously, the home office deduction; gone?)

Sigh..so as I work to get my tax records in (short) order, I also decided to get my other record management ship shape.  Earlier this year, I was subject to the new Driver’s License renewal protocol; Real I.D.  I was fortunate enough  to know where all of my necessary records were but it made me think harder about the safe security of those papers.  So, I decided to do something about it.  But what?   Luckily, I found a print out (stop laughing) of Jean Chatzky’s e-zine, ‘MONEY TIP’ that I’ve had for years and wanted to reshape my adaptation of her words of wisdom here:

There are a number of document “types” that need to be kept long term (read for life).  Some should be stored in a fire proof safe (at home) or in a safety deposit box at your local brick and mortar financial institution; aka the bank and the rest can be filed in your home office filing cabinet/box but be easily portable in the event of a sudden need to evacuate your home due to fire, flood or some other dislocation crisis.

For the Safe –

Deeds and Titles (Homes and property, cars, motorcycles, R.V.s., business and recreational vehicles, etc. etc.)

Marriage licenses and divorce degrees (yes, you can always get duplicates/copies from the county officials.

I recommend storing a copy in your cloud storage as well)

Birth Certificates

Social Security Cards

Stock Certificates

List of Bank/Brokerage/Investment accounts (understanding that we have apps for everything, consider what might happen if your identify, computer, phone are hacked.  Don’t take chances – have paper backup)

Portable Filing –

Insurance Policies

Passports

Seven years of tax returns

Wills and Trusts

Power of Attorney

Medical Directives

Funeral and burial instructions

List of Bank/Brokerage/Investment accounts (understanding that we have apps for everything, consider what might happen if your identify, computer, phone are hacked.  Don’t take chances – have paper backup)

While it take times and attention to detail, having your collective poop grouped can pay off in time, energy and money in the long run. Remember, don’t give our favorite uncle anymore than what is actually due. 😉