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How to keep on track of your tax all year round

Every year when tax time rolls around, the same thing happens; I spend hours scrabbling around for receipts I’ve stuffed in a drawer, and then give up, knowing I’m doing myself out of deductions that could save me serious cash. And being organised really is worth it; last year the average person received a refund of $2381 from the ATO, according to Noteworthy, the content hub at Officeworks. 

So this year I’m turning to Noteworthy to help me sort out my systems and make next tax time a whole lot easier. These are some of the ideas I’ll be trying out: 

Firstly, I’m buying some document box files. Noteworthy suggest starting a new folder or file for each month, so when tax time comes around next year everything will already be in place exactly where I need it. Whenever I get a receipt, I can pop it straight in the folder so I know where it is when I need it. Too easy. 

I’m also setting up a colour coded system. According to Noteworthy, colour coded folders make everything more efficient, as you can see what you need immediately. So, I’m separating my receipts and documents into categories such as property, receipts and bank statements, so I can give everything straight to my accountant in easy bundles without having to sort through it all again.

I’ve always wanted a shredder, and now’s the time. As I searched through old receipts to give to my accountant this year, I found lots of documents I’d kept unnecessarily. Noteworthy suggest shredding anything you don’t need immediately instead of filing it away with other documents, so important things don’t get lost amongst things you don’t even need. 

Many of my receipts are languishing in my huge inbox. Noteworthy suggests filing them straight away into a separate folder on my computer, so I don’t have to trawl through my emails to find them. They also highlighted to me that having backups of everything I have digitally is essential, so I’m going to get a hard drive too. That way, if my computer loses files, I’ll still be able to claim all my deductions next year.  

Noteworthy reminded me that I have to keep all documents related to my tax return for five years after its lodged. I’m going to get some archive boxes to store all my previous tax lodgements so they don’t get lost or mixed up. For my digital files, I can set expiration dates for what I’ve got stored. I didn’t know that on some software you can set up automated reminders too. This means I don’t need to hold on to documents and clog up my system for years after I need them. 

As I searched through old documents and paperwork looking for receipts, I realised just how disorganised I am with filing. So, I’m going to set up a system for all paperwork that comes in to my house. Noteworthy suggest sorting all incoming paperwork in to five folders; Action for documents I need to deal with straight away, Archive for things I need to hold on to and look at sometimes, General for things I need to refer to regularly, Recycle for non-sensitive documents I can put straight in the recycling bin, and Shred for documents I don’t need but can’t put in recycling because they have sensitive information on them. I’m going to buy some easy to use trays and label them with a system the whole family can use. Streamlined life, here I come! 

This is general information only and does not constitute taxation or legal advice. Other requirements under the tax law apply. Seek professional tax and/or legal advice to determine whether you are eligible to claim a deduction for any purchases.