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Income Tax
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My method for stashing documents and receipts needed for income tax preparation is to have a box (a little larger than a shoe box) labelled with the year in large black marker and, as the year rolls on, to toss into it anything that might pertain to taxes.

Then around this time of the year, I take all the papers and sort them into appropriate categories: income (W2s and 1099s and so forth), donations to charities, out of pocket medical expenses, and so forth.

I go through each category and as best I can make sure I have everything that pertains to that category. My tax preparer (a former IRS review agent) sends out a little quickie booklet to help with the process around the start of February. I never look at it.

Then I take the whole mess to him, each category in its own envelope or folder, and he does what he does best. Done, finished.

One year my husband criticized my seemingly careless attitude of tossing everything willy-nilly into a box. That year he coerced me into making hanging folders for him, all neatly labelled with each category and purchasing a rolling frame for them. He put it under the kitchen table (where we opened our mail).

N grandly proclaimed my problem solved. (What problem? I didn't see no stinkin' problem, except one he created). He proceded to "use" the folders by opening the mail and laying the tax-related documents across the tops of the folders (or in a pile on top of the table), to be filed into the folders later.

Before the filing happened, as the weeks rolled by, the cats had a ball with all the loose papers and our tax documents were shredded, peed on (one elderly cat thought it was a cat box), and generally misappropriated.

I threw a fit. He made me do all that work to "correct" my system, and turned it into a complete hairball of a mess. You can imagine what it was like that year, trying to piece together torn up papers and copying yellowed papers that smelled, to be able to have something presentable for the tax man.

Now I have a box labelled '2012' and all papers go into it. The one named '2011' is currently being worked on.

No problem.

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