Keep Paperwork Long After You File

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.

Valuing Donated Goods for Tax Deduction

Major tax-preparation programs and applications from companies such as H&R Block, TaxAct and TurboTax offer valuation guides for used goods like those you often #donate to ClothingDonations.org, offering a range of values based on condition. Each pair of pants, for example, is worth about $5–$12 at resale, and that amount is deductible. Be forewarned, however, that the threshold for deductible donations of lightly used clothing and goods is typically $500, so try to #declutter often. If you would like to make a larger charitable donation, consult IRS Publication 526 for information.

At Tax Time, Decluttering Is Its Own Reward

Your 2018 tax returns won’t reward charitable #donations quite as much due to reforms included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which boosts the standard #deduction and makes itemizing less favorable for many taxpayers. But #donating used clothing, household goods, furniture, books and other items to ClothingDonations.org can at least encourage peace of mind and boost productivity by #organizing and #decluttering your home. Once you #declutter, you’ll have more time and energy to accomplish other to-dos such as exercising and cleaning, says Let’s Reach Success.

Claim a Deduction for Your Donations

When you #donate a substantial amount of used goods such as clothing, housewares, furniture, books and other items to ClothingDonations.org, you can claim a charitable deduction on your federal 1040 form if you itemize. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows taxpayers to deduct the fair market value for such goods — an estimate of what a buyer might pay for the used goods based on condition. ClothingDonations.org will provide you with a receipt for your #donation upon pickup, but you must estimate the value of the goods donated according to IRS Form #8283 to take a deduction.

Organize Your Desk and Office

Many readers of the Organizing Blog are now gathering up all of their W-2s, receipts and bank statements in order to file their income taxes. And many are likely finding that their offices and desks leave a lot to be desired when it comes to #organization.

If you’re like most people (busy), chances are that you’ll have to shuffle multiple stacks of papers or go on a last-minute hunt for an essential document when any deadline approaches. And even if you’ve gone all-digital, those pesky stacks of papers somehow still form on top of your desk.

Simply being able to locate what you need when you need it can pay for itself quickly in terms of time and perhaps tax savings, too. That’s why it’s time you organized your desk and office or home office for maximum productivity.

The first step in any #organization push is a good #decluttering. Purge the office of any inactive items, Lifehack says: “Declutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?”

Once the clutter is gone or at least diminished, establish work zones and stock them with the appropriate equipment. Label drawers and file all inactive folders out of sight. Create a temporary folder for work(s) in progress.

In the digital era, good filing extends to devices, too. Is your desktop cluttered with files you didn’t put away? Do you have hundreds of old or unresolved emails? Use 15 minutes of downtime every day to sort those into their proper places on your hard drive.

Stuff keeps coming in, of course, and if you don’t address it immediately, you can easily lose track of whatever it is. To handle this, Inc. recommends the classic two-tray system — an “In” or “New” box for new tasks, and an “Out” or “Old” box for anything requiring further action.

Inc. also says to get a bigger trashcan. “Because a large trashcan is more visible, you tend to think of it more often. When unnecessary paper comes into your workspace, you’re more likely to place it in the [larger] trashcan than to stack it in a disheveled paper tower of “No clue what to do with it.”

At tax time or any time, you can benefit by streamlining your workspace. Get your office organized now, and you’ll be better prepared for every project, presentation or accountant — and life in general.