Taxes for teachers can be complicated, especially if teachers are holding down more than one job (as many are). Polina Mann shares her tips for getting organized and finding deductions (see part 2 on Thursday!).
Please note that Polina is a teacher, not an accountant, and her recommendations are made in the spirit of helping you get organized to discover new deductions. Always double-check details with your accountant.
Organize with Spreadsheets
I always create multiple spreadsheets for each new year and label them accordingly so I can write my deductions into the proper spreadsheet as the year goes on. I usually have four separate files labeled for my teaching expenses, one for my Teachers Pay Teachers business, one for donations, and one for education.
I label everything with the current tax year and store them in one folder on my desktop. In the folders themselves, I have categories for office supplies, books, etc. You can personalize this to your particular situation, of course.
As I incur an expense, I type the expense in the correct file under the correct category and then file a paper copy of the receipt or invoice into a folder I keep that is labeled “Taxes 2022.” By the end of the year, I always have a big folder of receipts and invoices, which I separate and clip together by category. Then, I sum up all of the expenses in my spreadsheets, print each sheet out separately, and place that at the top of the stack of papers with the appropriate label for teaching expenses, donations, etc.
This saves a lot of time at the tax office when my accountant is trying to figure out which deductions I am eligible for and which categories to withdraw them from.
Apps For Organization
Smart Receipts App
This is a free app that you can download to keep track of your receipts. At the end of the year, the app can generate a pdf with the total amount you spent, so you can input that into your spreadsheet. This way, if you lose the receipt, you have a picture in the app, and it will still tally this receipt in your yearly total.
Genius Scan App
This free app eliminates the necessity for a scanner and can save a lot of time when you need to sign and return a document to someone via email. I use this app for scanning any documents that I need, including tax documents.
I simply click the plus button and then aim the scanner at the document to generate a copy.
Invoice Home Website
As someone who does a fair amount of freelancing, I’ve had to learn to invoice for work I do. I recently found this free website, where I create basic invoices to send to vendors. I can create an invoice in minutes, save the draft, download it as a pdf, and send it to a vendor. The best part is that the website keeps track of my invoices, which ones have been paid or unpaid. Once you have been paid, you can log in and check off that you’re all set.
Remember, the more organized you are, the more time you save at the tax office if you have someone else doing your taxes for you. If you come in with organized stacks of receipts, invoices, etc. clipped into categories with amounts clearly delineated on them, you will save your accountant time and yourself money in filing your return.
No one wants to dig through piles of papers to figure out what you spent where and when. Organize everything ahead of time. It will leave you with more time to hunt down those elusive deductions! Stay tuned for more later this week…
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