Organize a Bargain

April 22, 2009

bbb

One of my frequent haunts for organizing and decor products is Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Love the skinny hangers that make more room in your closet.  Clear containers, always a staple.  I keep all of the 20% off coupons they mail and publish in the paper in my glove compartment. I actually to this with gift cards and all coupons, that way I have them when I am out shopping.  When I run into BB&B  for myself or a client, I can always get items on sale!

You may or may not be aware that you can use as many coupons as you want/have at one time at BB&B.  I used 7 the other day for a client.  You can also use expired ones.

But…a little Birdie in the store told me that the corporate offices have been hinting around that they are going to get a little more picky when it comes to coupons.   They may change it to a “reasonable time frame” for expiration dates, more details to come “they say.”  So next time you are in, be sure to use your oldest ones first!

small-signature3

mom-party-70th-056

I figured I would give you all a few days to breathe and not think about taxes…

You are probably thinking “will she stop talking about taxes already.”  Well, unless you have put away your 2008 documents  in an organized fashion and shredded what you don’t need, then you are not done.  Consider lessons learned from this past year.  Do you need to set up a more efficient system for 2009?  Do you need to track any expenses in a different way?  Set systems in place now to make the process easier next year.

That is what I am going to do this morning before I head out to work.  Here is how it works at my house.

  • All back up documents and receipts I need to retain are put in a clear bin.  Label indicating the year is adhered to the front.  I keep mine in a closet in my office.  High shelf that is hard to use for anything else.
  • I will be shredding any receipts and documents I do not have to keep for tax record keeping purposes.
  • I keep a copy of my tax forms submitted to the IRS and State in a file in my filing cabinet by year.

So what do we keep?  It can be different for different people –based on what you claim on your taxes. You should check with your tax professional but the general rule is keep tax back up for 7 years.  I hear 3 years, I hear 7years.  Here is the scoop.  The IRS has 3 years to audit you for cause or a random audit.  But if the suspect someone has done something fraudulently then they can go back further.

You  want to keep anything that is back up to what you claim on your taxes.  I always think of it this way.  If I got a call from the IRS about an audit, I will need to show them a receipt or documentation for anything I have claimed.  Those are the receipts that should be in the “tax box.”  If you have receipts for expenses that are not claimed on your taxes, before you toss or shred, consider if you need them for any other purpose:

  • Insurance
  • Warranty
  • Legal

Be sure to check with your accountant or investment representative to see what you need to keep regarding your investments.  There are specific requirements relating to buying and selling of stock.

Here are a few links that can help you as well.

IRS – Record Retention

What to Keep

Ok, now I’ll stop talking about taxes!

small-signature2

CB033838

30 days and counting…

Tic, toc, Tic, toc

Are your taxes done?  If so, CONGRATULATIONS and I hope the result was a rebate!

Maybe you have all your info ready to go, but are just waiting for your appointment with your tax professional.  GOOD!

If neither applies, get going!

Be sure to schedule time to work on it.  And like many things, it always takes longer than we thought.  If it is usually a last minute, nail biting, lots of coffee to stay up and finish by the deadline type of experience, remember you probably said you would do better next year.

Well it is next year.  A little organization and scheduling time will definitely make “next year” aka this year MUCH BETTER!

Check out my Tax Tip Thursday blog entries in the archives for additional info and tips.  You will feel great to get it off your plate.

small-signature7

GOV066

Working on my taxes this week, my mind wondered to the folks who’s tax returns read like fiction.  We’ve heard of so many high profile folks who have gotten caught recently.  A friend and I joke, comparing taxes to types of literature.  Some people write fiction some people write non-fiction.    What type of tax author are you?

Here is a list of of celebrity “fiction” tax writers.  Boston.com ran a compilation today of the Celebrity Tax Cheaters.  Take a read…

Famous Tax Fraud – www.boston.com

Have a great day!

small-signature3

Oprah Organizes – Again

February 18, 2009

O is for Oprah

O is for Organizing

Set your DVR for Oprah for tomorrow (Thursday.)  Her guest will be organizing expert Peter Walsh.  It is part of their road show series.  You can get some excellent tips from Peter and if you feel that you are disorganized you will also see that you are not alone!

The Container Store is a sponsor.  You can check out their site for air time and also, check back after the show or on the Oprah site.  Last time they offered 20% coupons for the store.  Not sure if they will this time  Now remember, only buy what you NEED.

The Container Store – Clean Up Your Messy House Tour

Have fun watching and saving…and look for a fellow New England organizer Elizabeth Selders in the audience.  She was there an spoke on camera, hopefully she makes the final cut!

small-signature8

Tax Tip Thursday – Week 4

February 12, 2009

j0405010

So…you have or have scheduled time to empty out the 2008 files, set up ones for 2009, sorted receipts and documentation by like category, totaled up receipts or run reports and checked for errors.  You have documented and calculated your charitable donations.  You have made an appointment with your tax professional or bought your Tax software.

Now it is time to complete your return.  Remember, I am an organizer not a CPA.   Here are some links to further help you prepare and beware.

Tax Mistakes

Tax Central From MSN Money

IRS – Frequently Asked Questions

Tax Tip Thursday will resume in a few weeks…where we will focus back on the “organization” of tax related documents, what to keep, what to shred, etc.

For now…I want to give you time to work on your taxes.  Good luck!

Got a question on how to organize for prep?  Just comment here and I’ll give you the answer!

small-signature3

Tax Tip Thursday – Week 3

January 29, 2009

osullivan-21

As an organizer, I am regularly recommending that folks donate unwanted goods to charity.  Not only will it help clear the clutter and  help those in need but they can also get a tax receipt.  This week’s Tax Tip Thursday is dedicated to information on just that!  You give…You get.

When donating goods to charity, make sure the items are something that someone else would want.  They need to be in good working order.  Charities spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on trash disposal — items people donated that are really trash.  So if you really want to help a charity, be selective on what you donate.

The good rule of thumb for donating goods is to keep detailed record in case of an audit.  I suggest (and do for my clients) the following:

  • Document what is donated
  • Take photo of the items donated
  • Donate to an organization that is an official tax exempt charity
  • Retain a tax receipt from the charity

How do you “value” what has been donated?  There are many sources that give you fair market value.  This is a start, but then it is best to consult with your tax professional.

  • IRS info on donating goods (IRS)
  • Workbook – “Money for Your Used Clothing” (Workbook)
  • Bankrate.com valuation worksheet (Worksheet)

If you didn’t keep good records in the past, now is a great time to start.  It is easy, and worth it to all.  You benefit and so do many needy charities.

small-signature

And now a word from my lawyer….you should consult your tax professional or irs.gov for any rules and/or tax laws. Atmosphere does not represent itself as a tax professional.