Take Charge of Your Income Taxes

Be prepared for your taxes with our guide to understanding tax forms, the lingo, tax credits and our tips for finding deductions that can save you money.

4 Ways to Organize Your Taxes

Don't let a mess of papers set you back! Learn how to organize all your important tax documents.

Get tax information organized


Tax-related income statements: Last year’s reports should have been sent to you in January. These include W-2s, 1099s and other papers related to income and earnings (including unemployment insurance, dividends and interest paid on accounts).

Records of general expenses: These include end-of-year statements for major expenses that might qualify as deductions, including annual student loan interest; mortgage or home-equity-loan interest; property taxes; bank fees and credit card expenses; medical bills (if you think they will amount to more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income); day-care and tuition bills; and receipts for charitable donations.

Business records and receipts: If you run a business, keep these records separate from your general expenses: business-related income (invoices and pay stubs), receipts for expenses (including travel, meals and entertainment) and costs relating to a home office.



Group like with like: Organize your papers and receipts into envelopes or folders.



Recall your major events: Go through your 2009 datebook month by month to recall and write down purchases and events that qualify as itemized deduction.



Add it up: If you plan to itemize expenses as deductions, make sure you have a receipt for each one, and use a spreadsheet program or tax-preparation software to add up the expenses in each category. Never estimate. If you’re missing a receipt, use a credit card statement as a record of the purchase.