For many of us, thinking about preparing our tax return is enough to break out in a cold sweat. However, getting your paperwork organised can avoid a big headache and even save you money, says the Australasian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO).
“Being organised at tax time is so important, not only in ensuring that your tax records are accurate, but also that you claim all the necessary deductions and receive the best possible return,” said AAPO President Angela Esnouf.
“Sorting your tax paperwork could certainly mean money in your pocket,” she said.
To help take the stress out of tax time, AAPO is offering its top tips for sorting and organising your tax paperwork quickly and easily.
AAPO’s Top Tax Time Tips
- Know what you need: Keeping everything ‘just in case’ creates unnecessary paper piles which can be very overwhelming. Talk to your accountant or the Australian Tax Office to find out what records and receipts you need to keep.
- Keep it simple: Set up a simple system for your paperwork and keep everything in the same place. Use lever arch files or a section in your filing cabinet to broadly categorise your tax related paperwork such as deductible expenses, pay slips, health expenses, donations and investments. Ensure each category has an envelope or folder to hold receipts throughout the year.
- Organise your receipts: Keep a separate section in your wallet or handbag for tax deductible receipts as you collect them. Make a note about what the expense relates to on the back of the receipt.
- Make time to get organised: Schedule a regular time in your diary to keep on top of your tax and household paperwork. It’s much easier to file as you go, than try and tackle it all at the last minute. One hour a week is all you should need.
- Archive it: Once you have received your Notice of Assessment, attach it to your tax folder and archive the records in a safe place, so that you can easily retrieve your documents if you are audited. Talk to you accountant to find out how long you should keep your records.
- Beat the backlog: If you have more than three years of returns to complete, dedicate a lidded plastic box or an entire filing cabinet drawer to the job. Label a new foolscap envelope for each financial year you are missing a return. Round up all your paperwork and place in the envelope for the relevant year. Then hand the envelopes to your accountant.
- Seek advice: Speak to your accountant or the Australian Tax Office, and visit www.aapo.org.au to find an AAPO accredited professional organiser who can help you put simple systems in place to keep your paperwork in order.