With tax season upon us, it’s important to gather every document you need to get the most deductions when you file. If you’ve been diligent about filing papers away in well-marked file system, awesome! But for many, filing and organizing paperwork falls under the category of “later”. And if you are helping an elderly parent or client, dealing with piles of unorganized paper can get overwhelming fast. To simplify things, think of this project as consisting of 2 main activities – sorting and storing.


  1. Have a list of items needed for tax filing in front of you before you begin. Check with your tax preparer to verify what you will need or visit the IRS website. You can also refer to the list at the bottom of this article to get you started.
  2. Start with unfiled piles of paperwork first.  You will need 2 boxes – one for tax related paperwork, and one for everything else. Anything that is tax-related goes into one box, and everything else goes into the other box. If you find paper that is obviously trash, have a large waste basket on hand and toss it!
  3. Mark off tax papers you found that are on your tax preparation list immediately so you don’t have to look for it again.


  1. When you have finished sorting all the miscellaneous piles of paper, take the pile of tax related papers (if you’re lucky it’s the smaller of the two), and separate them into categories such as those listed below. If there are existing files you can combine the sorted paperwork into the appropriate file folders.
  2. There are several options for storing them to share with the accountant. You can create file folders for each category if not already on hand and put them in a file box or drawer, or scan them for storage on a cloud-based file.

For help in dealing with that bigger pile of papers that weren’t tax-related, just click here for step by step instructions on decluttering and downsizing paperwork.

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Bank statements, Retirement fund or investment statements, Income and expense reports from investments, Profit and loss statements from businesses owned, Closing documents from home purchases, Pay stubs, Charitable donation receipts, out-of-pocket medical expense receipts, Child care expenses, and income statements from W-2 or 1099 reports.