By Rachel M. Anderson
(Chisago County, Minn.) – Tax Day has come and gone and a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief. But just like your next birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tax Day will be here again before you know it.
“Don’t let next year be as stressful as this year was. Take control now,” says professional organizer Mary Berg of Franconia Township in Chisago County, Minn. She has been helping people make it through tax season and beyond for years now.
How does she do it? By helping people simplify their lives. It wasn’t so long ago that “George” and his wife realized they had a real dilemma on their hands. The IRS was literally knocking at their door because they were several years behind on their taxes. The couple had to get organized and fast, but how? They called Berg.
According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the biggest benefit of hiring a professional like Berg is that person will have the expertise, skill set and personality necessary to get a job done you were unable to complete on your own.
Berg has worked as a professional organizer for about a decade. Prior to starting up her own business, she spent close to 20 years at 3M as a materials analyst, a job that prepared her well for what she is doing now.
It was her responsibility to procure the backings for the millions of yards of sandpaper the Minnesota-based company manufactured every year. In that role she had to stay very focused on timelines to make sure materials came into the factory and product went out in a timely fashion.
The same skills she used to succeed at that job served her well as she helped “George” and his wife navigate through the numerous bins in their basement that contained the information they needed to get caught up with their taxes. “Over the years this couple had kept the pertinent tax information in separate storage bins, but that was the extent of the organizing they had done,” says Berg.
So, as bin after bin was brought up from the basement, Berg began the task of sorting through the boxes of receipts and paperwork, separating by year into various categories. The information was then transferred to Excel Spreadsheets and handed over to an accountant to complete their tax forms and send along to the IRS and State Revenue Department.
Berg says it was very rewarding to help solve the couple’s problems by teaching them how to become organized and avoid such problems in the future. Among the strategies she recommends everyone use to get organized for tax season:
1) Know what you can and cannot deduct on your tax forms, depending on your individual situation, so throughout the year you are accumulating the right information and paperwork to easily tabulate as soon as the current year ends. Many financial planning professionals offering such advice will gladly do so in a no-obligation initial meeting; Berg can recommend well-qualified professionals offering such advice. Be ‘pre-emptive’ and know what you can legally deduct.
2) As you incur expenses and do transactions you know will have tax consequences, keep them separate from all other paperwork. Put tax information into a designated file folder or envelope that is easily accessible. Don’t give yourself an excuse for not sorting-as-you-go throughout the year.
3) Set your deadline for some time in January or early February to begin the task of tabulating the accumulated paperwork and information. W-2 forms usually arrive in January, as do the year-end statements that contain pertinent information also needed for your tax return. (Many financial institutions do offer year-end summary reports—some automatically, some upon request.)
By simply thinking through the process of what information you’ll need to meet the TAX DAY deadline, then accumulating & labeling as you go throughout the year, you can have a STRESS FREE TAX DAY in 2013.
About Mary Berg
Mary Berg is a professional organizer who for the past decade has been helping people from all walks of life take control of their lives through the Art of Organization. She gained much of her expertise while working at 3M, a Minnesota-based company that produces thousands of products used in homes and industry today. Berg was a materials analyst for the company’s Abrasives Division.
Mary Berg and her husband, Greg, live in Franconia Township in Chisago County, Minn., near the St. Croix River, a National Scenic River that creates the divide between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Mary’s interests include World War II history, particularly that of the Army Air Corp and USAAF’s role in the liberation of Europe. Mary also is an antique dealer at Country Charm Antiques, located on Main Street in Stillwater.
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