Deduct your de-cluttering!

March 18, 2012

The countdown is officially on for 2011 tax season. If you haven’t filed yet, you have one month to do so.

If you itemize, don’t forget about those charitable deductions – ESPECIALLY all of your drop-offs of gently used items to neighborhood charities, thrift and resale shops.

Didn’t do any of that in 2011? Turn over a new leaf in 2012 and reward yourself for de-cluttering your home or garage!

Gently used, good condition items of ALL kinds can be donated to various charities for a tax write-off:

  • Appliances can be donated to housing and rebuilding charities, like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore
  • Extra housing supplies (trim, siding, paint, hardware, etc.) can be donated to a Rebuilding Exchange like the one in Chicago
  • Clothing, shoes, and other household items can be dropped off at places like Goodwill, or the Salvation Army
  • Many places, like the Purple Heart or Vietnam Veterans even pick up at your house, for instance, if you have furniture, or a large volume of give-away bags through www.charitypickupservice.com, which allows you to schedule online. How’s that for an “easy” button?
Make sure to photograph the items you’ll be donating and stash a copy along with your charitable receipt for tax purposes.
The Salvation Army provides an online guide for fairly estimating the monetary value of your donation (always talk to your tax/accounting professional about any questions or doubt you may have): http://www.salvationarmysouth.org/valueguide.htm
If you do your own taxes and use a tax preparation tool online, look for additional software options, like Turbo Tax’s “It’s Deductible,” which allows you to enter individual items you donated, and then generates the actual acceptable donation value for deduction purposes.

Reward yourself for making positive change in your home at the same time you make positive change in your community!

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Bills and statements and files, oh my!

February 22, 2011

It’s tax prep time which, for a lot of people, means digging through stacks of unorganized papers stuffed into different drawers throughout the house.  If this is you – try to turn this dreadful chore into a productive organization project. Believe it or not, it won’t take you that much extra time, and it will make your life a LOT easier.

And it’s not that complicated. Here’s an easy 4-step process to organize your papers:

  • Gather all of your papers together into one big pile. Seriously. Grab an empty bankers box, a reusable shopping bag, even a laundry basket, whatever you have, and go around the house collecting all of your piles.
  • Sort your papers into four simple categories:
    1. Shred
    2. Throw away
    3. Keep for files
    4. Take immediate action (put all of your tax-related documents in this pile!)

Check out the great Real Simple article, “5 Steps to Simpler Record-Keeping” to learn more about what you should be keeping and for how long

  • After your throw away and shred all of the papers you no longer need, deal with your Action items. Go ahead and separate out your tax-related documents.

You can find free tax document checklists online – H&R Block even has a free simple survey you can take that, depending on your answers, tells you exactly which documents you’ll need to collect.

  • Figure out the right kind of system for keeping your long-term documents. Whether this is a paper accordian file, manilla file folders in a filing cabinet, folders in a drawer, etc. – Make sure you clearly label each of your categorical files (i.e. credit card statements, health records, utilities, receipts, charitable contributions, etc.)

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