Organizing Medical & Other Records for Tax Time

 

The holidays are over. If you’re like me, this isn’t your favorite time of year. But, to look at the positive side of things, it’s a clean slate and time to begin anew. And with that clean slate is another block of 365+ days to stay on top of things and keep our complex lives organized.


Tax time approaches. So, as you start your new year, I thought I’d pass along a few ideas my family uses to try to keep track of what’s going on to keep the money madness to a minimum:
Use Tax Software: Why? How?
1.Incorporates Federal & State
Here’s a simple one. We use TaxCut software (H&R block) that incorporates
both state and federal tax forms, but obviously there are other programs. The two in one makes it easy for online submissions and eradicates the confusion that tends to come with the paper forms. Because it asks you to scan for updates, you stay current with the tax laws. Help guides also allow for you to figure out what qualifies as deductions.

2. Deduction Pro software included
On this software, there is a cd that we upload onto my computer to keep track of potential deductions. Deduction Pro, the software, tracks medical expenses, charitable contributions, and mileage. All you have to do is type it in (the drop boxes include dates and donation), and at the end of the year, the software exports this information to the official tax forms.
3. Stick with it!
Now, the important part is, KEEP UP TO DATE! When you get your insurance information back or a bill, type it into the software. I know that a lot of you attend many, many doctor appointments, so if you wait too long, it’ll get overwhelming or you’ll lose important information. But the bonus is that for regular appointments with recurring costs, you can type in the start and finish dates, and you only have to type it in that once! It works great for those of us who have weekly appointments with the same bill information each time.
4. Includes charities
The same system within the software works for charitable donations (religious donations, causes, etc.). As well, they have suggested prices for items you might donate to Goodwill or the Salvation army so you can estimate the value to put on the receipt they give you when you drop off your items after a good house cleansing.
For this, I make a table using Word, with 5 columns (type of donation, condition of item, quantity of items in that category, estimated value, subtotal of value). I include as many rows as necessary to include all of the different types of items being donated at that date. And then I add up the subtotals to create a grand total. I enter that total for the date into the Deduction Pro software and print out a copy, stapled to my receipt. Voila! (Note: I also file this document under the Deduction Pro folder on my computer that I keep in “My Documents” so the soft copy is available if something does happen to it.)
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Create a filing system (file cabinet or small file box)
Using tips like these allows for a cleaner desk and records to be at hand when you need them.
1.Keep medical records organized
For each month, create a hanging file folder with that month’s name on it. When you go to a doctor’s appointment or receive the bill/insurance information in the mail, record into something like the Deduction Pro software and immediately place record into the appropriate month. Repeat each time!
2.Keep bills/records organized
For each utility or record need, place a hanging file folder into another drawer of the file cabinet or box. This technique also works for non-tax, but important information as well. Label each folder with the SPECIFIC record title (i.e. electric, cable, automobile, insurance, home office tax records, warranty information). Whenever you receive any of these pieces of information, file immediately after taking care of the bill or product.
At the end of the year, create a hanging file labeled with “200_ medical records” title. Stack all of the medical records in monthly order into this file by gathering the records from each monthly hanging file and place this collective file in the back of the file cabinet drawer. Do the same with any other outdated yearly records. Additionally, after you’ve printed a copy of all tax information submitted, create a folder for that year’s tax records and place it with the hanging files containing the previous years’ records in that same cabinet (or a well labeled file box). In this manner, all records at your finger at a moment’s notice, but off of your desk cluttering up your life! Maintain for as long as you deem necessary (at least 3-7 years).
Hopefully these suggestions can be of some service to you as you prepare to wade through all of those important pieces of information throughout the upcoming year! Happy organizing!
Article written by Carrie Burns, © butyoudontlooksick.com

©2018butyoudontlooksick.com
  • Tami

    Skip all that typing in #4 for charitable donations! Intuit (the Quicken & TurboTax folks) offer a free online tracker for this. What I think is great is that they have values for things for you. (I believe this comes from recent sales on ebay.) It does exactly what you describe and more. Plus, free is a great price! =) It will also import into TurboTax if you use that. Don’t know about what happens if you don’t. I’ve used TT for 15+ years.
    http://turbotax.intuit.com/personal-taxes/itsdeductible/

  • Judith

    Great article. I will try some of these tips as I will soon be moving my office area. Thanks.

  • Connie

    I use the Intuit Quicktax software, which has the same advantages as TaxCut. Last year, it made it possible to claim more deductions I didn’t know about and gave me an extra $200 on my refund.

  • Thanks for all the good information. Keeping medical records organized is something I need to work on, so thanks for the tips.

  • One good thing to do for medical mileage is the first time you go to a doctor, hospital, pharmacy, etc. Got to an online map service like (Yahoo or Google) and map your trip. If it is from your home you only have to do it one time and make a note of it. Then write the mileage to and from on your bill. I usually print the maps and keep them with my tax stuff.