Whether you live in the United States or in Canada one thing we have in common is that April is tax time.

For many people April is when the tulips arrive and the weather begins to warm up but instead of enjoying this transformation from the long cold winter, they are frantically searching their house for receipts and papers for the tax deadline.

Some people compare doing income tax returns to getting a root canal, but it is something that we cannot escape if we work for a living.  So why not make this time of year a little bit easier?

Instead of breathing that big sigh of relief when it is all over and putting it out of your mind until next year, why not create a special space just for those receipts and papers?  It may sound very boring, but do you really want a repeat of last year’s anxiety and fretting or calling banks and your employer for copies of slips because you lost them?

Or worst yet, losing out on credits and refunds because you don’t have the slips needed to prove you are entitled.  No one wants to pay more than they have to.  So you need to keep these papers and slips somewhere safe.   If they are in their very own folder and tucked away somewhere easy to get to, then even if you move you will still have them.

It is called being proactive.  It can be compared to Christmas shopping.  We all procrastinate how we will save up the rest of the year to have enough money for the holidays and the shopping.  We tell ourselves we will not spend too much, but we do.  Then the holidays roll around and we realize that we actually did nothing about saving up during the year and our New Year’s resolution will be to save up the money for next holiday again.  This becomes a procrastination circle.

If this sounds like you, and in the midst of tearing your house apart and the junk drawer and the glove compartment in the car looking for those slips and statements you swear that next year it will be different, then why not start right now.  It can be hard to remember what you got in the mail sometime last year, so put it away as soon as you get it.   If you are not sure if it will affect your taxes then put it away with the other papers and then you have it when it comes time to prepare your return.

income tax organizerCredit: amazon.com
Smead All-in-One Income Tax Organizer, 12 Pockets, Flap and Cord Closure, Letter Size, Navy/White (70660)
Amazon Price: $18.66 Buy Now
(price as of May 21, 2016)
This is perfect for keeping your information slips and statement separate from the rest of your papers.

When are Federal Taxes Due?

You need to know this answer before it rolls around again next year.  For Canada it is April 30th for the United States it is April 15th.  But that is the tax deadline.  That is the last possible day to submit without asking for an extension or getting hit with late filing fees.

So, why not be ready before then?  Why not be so organized it will be a breeze to do. Well maybe not a breeze but you get the idea!  Especially if you normally get a refund, don’t you want to get it sooner rather than later?  Even if you have to pay, it is good to get the return done as early as possible so you know how much you need to find to pay the bill by the due date. 

What You Need for Tax Return - Income Tax Organizer

The problem is that we may get tax slips during different times of the year, not necessarily in the months before the tax deadline.  If you left a job, you may get the information slip with your severance, if you withdrew anything from your registered retirement plans you will get slips when you do that.  

If you are anything like my son, that may end up in a drawer somewhere, in the car glove compartment or maybe on the desk to end up in the recycling bin. 

I found the best way to stay on top of these bits of important papers, is to have a file just for taxes.

Even if you are not sure how important a piece of paper is, put it in this file and you can look at it or give it to your tax specialist.  It is easier to accumulate all these papers in this accordion file and then simply throw out the ones not needed than to search the house high and low.

So, have this special file folder sitting somewhere easy and accessible, and when something comes in the mail or you have to print something from your computer, then quickly put it in this folder.  If you are super organized you can label each section but if you are not that way inclined at least all the slips will be in one spot.

Using Turbo Tax

If you like to do your own taxes, then having this folder ready helps you when it comes time to sit down with them online.  

Since I help my son out with his taxes, I have to wait for him to find all those papers and I usually get them handed to me within days of the tax deadline.  So, I will purchase one of these files for him as a gift from me. 

 Turbo Tax

I also love Turbo Tax for doing the calculations and then e-filing the return.  There are many programs out there but this one works well for me and has done so for many years.   I use the one for Canada but you can get this program for the USA too.  You just need to decide on the type of return you need to do so you get the right program.

So, take that step you keep promising yourself you would do when stressed looking for everything and get organized.  This is an affordable way to store your receipts and slips and statements so that next year you will be able to go outside in April and enjoy the spring weather, the birds tweeting and the tulips without stress, fretting and worry about doing your tax return.  Money can be a huge stressor but check this out, 52 ways to save money this year for some tips.