There is a lot of information out there on tax filing and job hunting and keeping your information organized. It’s an important subject because, according to the IRS, some job hunting expenses are deductible. The problem is figuring out how to keep track of all the expenses so you have the paperwork to prove your deduction claims.
Pilers, Filers, and Technophiles
The way that will work best for your purposes is the way that you naturally do things. Most of us are either pilers, filers, or technophiles.
If you are a piler, it’s obvious because there probably is a pile or two in your immediate vicinity right now. You tend to toss things somewhere to deal with later, and instead of going against your habits, how about having a box or basket to toss all receipts into? If you can create several boxes and make them look good, you can sort as you toss, but some of us pilers would rather pitch it all in one place and take an evening to sort it at tax time. Pilers have a hard time going through extra steps even if a nice system is set up, but boxes — that’s just walls on the pile. It works.
If you are a filer, you might already have an impressive system set up with files and labels. Just make sure there are files for any job search expenses and that you put anything remotely deductible in a file so you can find out if it is needed at tax time. Filers need to make sure they aren’t so organized they over-separate files into overwhelming divisions of minutiae. It’s okay to file by month instead of subject, for instance. If you find yourself unable to file something that may be important, make a file for “may be important stuff” and put it in.
If you are a technophile, you love the tech stuff and you are great at scanning documents and putting that information in cyberspace or hard drive. The problem is when you lose track of where your stuff is or that hard drive crashes. There is a lot out there for technophiles who want to keep documentation electronically, but make sure you have backed it up for emergencies.
It’s true that some job search expenses are deductible but only if you handle your documentation information efficiently. Whether you are a piler, filer, or technophile, the challenge is to figure out what works for you and do it.