Getting Organized for Taxes with Evernote

Tips & Stories

Getting Organized for Taxes with Evernote

Posted by Joshua Zerkel on 10 Mar 2016

Posted by Joshua Zerkel on 10 Mar 2016

This is part two of a two-post series on managing financial documents in Evernote. You can read part one here. »

Taxes come like clockwork. Every year, you need to find all your receipts, collect all your bank statements, and meticulously organize everything to prepare your tax return. If you’re like me, you find this process boring and sometimes stressful—or at least that’s how it used to be before I started using Evernote to organize all my tax-related information. Once I started using Evernote to collect everything, tax time became much easier. Here’s how I organize all the details for my taxes in Evernote.

Your tax situation will be different than mine, so make sure to talk to your tax preparer or accountant about what documents you need to collect for taxes, along with what format they want them in.

Organize the details

You’ll need homes for all your tax-related documents to live, and you’ll likely want them organized by year. Create two notebooks, one for each year’s taxes and another for each year’s expenses. If you’re running a small business, you may want to create a third notebook for income. When you’re done, your notebooks may include:

  • 2015 Taxes
  • 2015 Income
  • 2015 Expenses

Within each notebook, you’ll collect all the documents, receipts, bills and statements you’ve received over the year. Just drag or email in electronic documents, and use Evernote on your mobile device to scan in paper documents.

In the taxes notebook, you’ll want to collect tax-specific documents like W-2s, 1098s, donation receipts, end-of-year credit card summary statements, and so on. Each document should be a single note titled with the tax year and the name of the document—for instance “2015 – 1098 Mortgage Interest” or “2015 – W-2.” If you have more context to add, just type in a comment at the top of a note and highlight it to call additional attention.

For most of us, preparing our taxes is a project, and we may need to refer to our taxes notebook frequently. Just drag your taxes notebook to your shortcuts for one-click access while your taxes are mid-prep.

Share and prepare

Click the share button to invite your preparer to the notebook, and they’ll have access to all the information they need to prepare your taxes without you having to send files via email. I suggest sharing it with read-only access, as it’s unlikely your tax preparer will need to edit any of your documents.

If you’re preparing your taxes yourself, make sure to organize all your documents into your taxes notebook before you sit down to start the process. Having everything centralized makes preparing your taxes much faster and easier—you won’t have to waste time looking for key information.

Store for safekeeping

You’ve gotten organized, prepared your taxes, received your return (hopefully!) and all that’s left is to tidy up. Once your taxes are finalized, take the PDF of your tax return and drag it to your taxes notebook. Your return, along with all the supporting documents, will be in one notebook in case you ever need to refer to them.

If you dragged a shortcut to your taxes notebook to your sidebar, remove it as you won’t likely need it again anytime soon. If you have any remaining tax-related paper, ask your accountant or tax preparer if you can keep scanned copies of it instead—if you can, scan it to Evernote and shred the paper.

Finally, now that you’re done with last year’s taxes, take this as an opportunity to create your structure for next year.

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5 Comments RSS

  • Cordell

    It would be nice if you could encrypt an entire note instead of being able to encrypt selected text. This would give you an extra level of security for documents such as tax returns.

  • mystrangeworld

    dear mr zerkel,

    thank you for these tips.

    Is there a specific reason not to mention tags nor stacks [e.g. a FinancialManagment stack, tags for YEAR, CATEGORY (Expenses, Income, Tax)].
    On the other hand would a naming convention for the various notes like YEAR:CATEGORY – NOTEDESCRIPTION/TITLE not be more useful.
    As well as using the YEAR tag as shorcut instead of the specific YEAR CATEGORY notebook?

    Best,

  • Harold Delk

    Before sharing the folder with your accountant I’d suggest creating a Table of Contents as the first file so any document is accessible with one click (I name mine .TOC so it will remain at the top) … if you have named each note properly all of the W-2’s 1099’s, Donations, etc. will be grouped so acct. can easily find W-2 Name1, W-2, name2 with no problem. One other trick I use is to Annotate each note and have it display same at top with info she is looking for … things like name of charity + amount donated. My accountant can then get the info she needs at a quick glance and later audit the notes for accuracy. She loves that idea! We’ve worked this way for two tax seasons now and always discuss ways to make it more efficient … it also reduces the billable hours.

  • StevenT

    While I am an avid user of Evernote for many years, I personally would never store any sensitive documents such as personal financial documents in Evernote. As far as I know, notes stored in Evernote are not encrypted (I suspect Evernote has always been against this because it would interfere with their universal searching abilities). While I love Evernote, I do not consider it a secure online repository.

  • Thomas J Pavlik

    All Good But how do I download the results to my computer?