Statistically, U.S. taxpayers have a very low chance of being audited by the IRS. According to MSN personal finance columnist Liz Weston, only about 1 percent of all tax filers are audited.
I must be the unluckiest person on earth because I’ve been audited twice. Both times were so stressful, I get sweaty palms just thinking about it. On both occasions, I had to provide proof for deductions I claimed going back several years.
Here’s my problem: I am terrible with receipts. They get wadded up in the bottom of my purse or left in a box or bag, never to be seen again. And even when I do manage to collect receipts, organizing and filing them can take an entire weekend or longer. I have tried every possible method for receipt retention and filing, even scanning them into my computer. That provided a partial solution, but I’ve learned that just because I’ve scanned something into my computer does not necessarily mean I will ever be able to find it when I need it.
A few months ago, I discovered the solution to my receipt retention and filing problem. Shoeboxed.com is an online organizational service that allows me free usage of its online management system, including unlimited storage in the cloud for all of my digital receipts, business cards and documents. And, I have a searchable archive of everything in my account. All I have to do is scan each item and then upload it into my Shoeboxed account, either via my computer or mobile app. I also have the option of having Shoeboxed do all the work for me, for as little as $9.95 per month, with a 30-day free trial included in all plans. Here’s what I mean by “all of the work.” I keep a big blue Shoeboxed.com envelope handy for every receipt, business card, invoice, warranty or any other document I need to keep. Then I seal it and mail it off to Shoeboxed. In a few days, every document is professionally scanned, categorized and properly filed into my account.
Shoeboxed offers several levels of service. When you go to its site, click on FAQs to learn more. As you are weighing your options, take this from me: The amount I spend at Shoeboxed each month to keep organized and audit-ready pales by comparison to what I have experienced in the past. The amount of time and money I have spent scrambling at the last minute to make sure I have what I need to prove and substantiate the deductions on my tax return or to get service on a warranty or return a purchase for a refund is incalculable. I cannot imagine how many reimbursements I’ve missed because I didn’t have a receipt to submit. That will never happen again.
I highly recommend Shoeboxed if you are like me and could use a little help getting your financial records organized, filed and easily accessible.
Now that I have Shoeboxed on my team, I am so pleased with myself. I’m almost looking forward to my next IRS audit. Well, almost!
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at email@example.com, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.
To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.