The Organizing Blog urges you to do a little bit of #decluttering every day, except when it comes to financial documents. The IRS asks that you keep tax returns and supporting documentation for three years after you file, meaning you should still have all of your 2015 paperwork on file today. If there was a year in which you weren’t required to file, document the circumstances and keep the proof indefinitely. Other “forever” paperwork includes loan documents and payoff confirmations; divorce, child support and alimony papers; and birth certificates, Social Security cards and military discharge papers.
If you want to deduct contributions of used goods made to ClothingDonations.org, the value of the deduction is approximately equal to whatever the goods’ fair market value was at the time of the donation. “You should clearly contribute, rather than throw out, old clothes, furniture and equipment that you no longer use,” Charity Navigator says. Be sure to get a receipt, however, if you plan to claim donations of used goods as a tax write-off, and if you donate money directly, the IRS will require a canceled check, credit card statement, bank statement or a written acknowledgment from the charity as proof.
Sorting through your tax-time paperwork is certainly burdensome, but worse still is having to store it for years without ever knowing when it’s OK to get rid of it. Wisebread says that while you should keep a copy of each return indefinitely, taxpayers can shred most supporting documents after three years. Keep only the paperwork that lists the purchase price of any securities you own, so that you can later report any gains or losses. If you claimed a capital loss on a past year’s return, however, keep that documentation for seven years.
To get your tax documents organized as a small business owner, create a desktop filing system that’s within easy reach of your workspace, says A Bowl Full of Lemons. Label folders with headers such as “Income” and “Taxes Paid,” and also create a folder for every category of deduction you plan to itemize, such as business travel, office expenses and charitable donations. And remember that your donations of lightly used clothing and household goods made to ClothingDonations.org are fully tax-deductible, since proceeds help fund veterans’ programs. Save your receipts!
As frequent readers of the ClothingDonations.org Organizing Blog know, the key to living a stress-free life is to stay organized — and that is never more true than at tax time. Whether you prepare a return yourself or have a professional do it, Bankrate says, having all of the necessary paperwork in order is crucial to filing the most accurate and favorable tax return. And if you failed to keep all of your receipts and other documentation sorted this year, you already know that this is a great time to get organized, so that next year’s taxes won’t present any unpleasant surprises.