I am a compensated member of Master Lock’s Live Secure Safety Squad but all beliefs are my own.
The dreaded deadline for taxes is coming up and if your family’s health care receipts are scattered all over the place, you have no idea how many times you donated items to charity, or gave money to your favorite charity, it’s time to get organized! Every year there are lessons I learn and new tools that I use to help streamline my accounting procedures. As a consultant and freelance writer, I work for myself meaning that I need to keep careful track of my income and expenses but no more than the average American does! Here are some helpful tips for getting organized at tax time that you can use now to get organized for this year to make next year even easier!
Start with a spreadsheet
At the bare minimum, starting a spreadsheet can help you keep track of tax deductible donations to charity and health care spending, especially if you have a Healthcare and Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA). A spreadsheet can help you track your health expenditures to ensure that you’re spending every penny so you don’t lose what you put into your FSA. Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium comes with Excel and Microsoft One Note that allow you to save your spreadsheets in the cloud so you can collaborate with your significant other to add expenses as you go. Google Docs is also a great tool that allows for family collaboration on expenses.
Use your smartphone’s camera
If you tend to lose receipts, snap a photo. The IRS will take digital copies of receipts or if you have a mobile printer where you can send documents directly to your printer from your smartphone, send your receipt to your home mobile printer while you’re out and it will be sitting on your printer when you get home, ready to be filed.
Use an app
If your goal is to live a more paperless life, an app like Expensify or Shoeboxed can help you ditch the shoebox full of receipts. Snap a photo or scan your receipt and importing relevant information will digitize it for safe keeping but will also result in a neat report at the end of the year.
Know when to outsource
One of my best secret weapons is our accountant. He knows all the tax rules and since we’ve been using him for years, he knows my business and our family well, he’s a treasure trove of advice that helps us maximize our spending into legal deductions. He’s truly worth every penny!
Store a copy of each year’s tax documents securely
In the event that you’re audited by the IRS, you’ll need to produce documentation. A huge argument for moving away from paper and towards digital records is the ability to store each year’s taxes in Master Lock Vault. This free, secure service provides easy access to digitized versions of important tax paperwork. It also can assist you in storing login credentials for personal banking and other cloud based systems through an encrypted database that will keep your personal information safe.
If you’re a consultant and freelancer worried that working for yourself will raise the red flag with the IRS, here are 6 Tax Tips for Consultants and Freelancers featuring some of my favorite accounting tools.
I mentioned Master Lock Vault above and in my video but another huge incentive to start using it to organize your taxes is the opportunity to win $1,000! This money can be used to supplement your tax refund or help ease the burden of additional taxes owed to take the sting out of writing another check to your State or Federal government!
New users can register for a Vault account at www.MasterLockVault.com. Once the account has been activated, you’ll receive an email containing the sweepstakes entry form. Existing Vault users who have opted in receive emails, will receive an email containing the sweepstakes entry form when the sweepstakes kicks off March 17. Registered users can also enter through this link: http://masterlock.com/tax_relief/
Please note that Master Lock sweepstakes rules state that one entry will be accepted per person through April 16, when the sweepstakes closes and five winners will be drawn at random.