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Simplify Your Life: Organize Your Tax Records

Nila Rakhit, CPA
05/13/2008

Did you spend hours pulling together your tax records in preparation for filing your 2007 tax return? It doesn't have to be that way. Avoid the problem next
year by taking a few simple steps now.
 
* FIRST, DECIDE WHAT RECORDS you need to keep for the current year. Generally speaking, you'll need records of income items and deductible expenses. Use your 2007 tax return as a guide.
 
* YOU'LL ALSO NEED TO KEEP SOME ITEMS for longer periods. For example, you may need purchase records for your house and other investments years later to calculate your capital gains.
 
* SET UP A FILING PLACE for each category. Use folders or plastic pouches for paper records, such as charitable receipts, property tax payments, and mortgage reports.
 
* IF YOU MANAGE YOUR BANKING AND FINANCES ONLINE, open up a series of folders on your hard drive. Save copies of electronic statements or transaction receipts in the relevant folder. Remember to make regular data backups.
 
* THEN STAY CURRENT with your records as you go through the year. It's easier to spend a few minutes each month than to have to spend hours reconstructing everything at the end of twelve months.
 
* AT THE END OF EACH MONTH, highlight income and deduction items in your check register. Use one color for charitable contributions, another for work
  expenses, and so on. You can do this whether you keep your register on paper or on a computer. Make sure any associated receipts are filed away correctly.
 
* AT YEAR-END, you should know exactly what falls into each category and where the records are.
 
Remember, the better your recordkeeping, the better your chances of maximizing tax breaks.

IRS Circular 23 Notice: To ensure compliance with the requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or ( ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.

(Nila Rakhit, CPA, can be reached at 617.678.4021. )

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