Every April 15th, the tax man comes knocking. If you’re like many Americans, it’s also the time for stress as you rush around trying to find misplaced receipts and pay stubs. Start now and stop scrambling to get your tax information together at the eleventh hour. These three easy steps can decrease your stress level and shorten your tax preparation time.

First, establish a file folder, large envelope, or even the stereotypical shoebox for your tax documents. Be sure to include a tax preparation checklist to avoid missing any deduction opportunities.

Save receipts for non-reimbursable work expenses, donations, pay stubs, medical or prescription co-pay receipts, etc. in the envelope or file. Do not put these documents on the counter or desk to do later. Chances are you won’t do it in a timely manner and they’ll end up in your junk drawer. Take a few minutes and slip them into your folder right away.

Second, set a consistent day every month, to organize your receipts. A very simple way to keep small slips of paper organized is to tape them to a sheet of copier or notebook paper. Make your tax preparer’s job easier and group them by type of expense – medical co-pay receipts or invoices, investment statements, charitable donations, you get the idea.

Third, create a top sheet for each deduction category, make any helpful notes about the expenditures, and add the total amount of each month’s receipts. Always make a copy of each page in case your originals are lost or destroyed.

With a little effort each month, you’ll be prepared to walk into your tax preparer’s office, hand off the folder, (or envelope, or box) and have your tax return in the mail before the IRS can say audit.

The professional staff at ORT Consultants will take the confusion out of the new tax laws, prepare your taxes to meet IRS specifications, and provide advice about ways to save money by making even small financial changes.