This is an idea that I came up with a few years ago. It started out of convenience. I had an empty accordion file sitting unused since my college days; why not put it to use storing tax documents? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how perfect it was. Not only is all my tax information in one place and easy to transport (especially helpful since my first year filing I used my dad as a resource, and also if I would ever need to pay an accountant or firm to help me file in the future if my return gets more complicated), but there are typically 7 slots in an accordion file, or in other words, space to store 7 years of tax documents. Since you are only required to keep tax documents for 7 years, that couldn’t be more perfect. Once I run out of space, it’s a very easy and visual reminder that it’s time to shred.
I recently “upgraded” to a pretty accordion file (the Martha Stewart line at Staples) and even attached one of her adhesive bookplates so I could label the front of it. Inside are 7 slots, and I stick a manila folder in each slot and label the year. As I get tax-related documents I can easily file them in the folder and then everything’s all together when I’m ready to sit down and complete my tax return.
The inside is not quite pretty yet, but switching out the basic manila folders for some patterned ones and/or making the labels consistent (i.e. not a mix of label tape and handwriting) would easily solve that.
Hope that helps you get a bit more organized for tax season this year!