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Blog: Use Your Space & Conquer Office Workflow
What the Heck to do with all these Little Paper Receipts!

My experience with many people is that the smaller the items (e.g., business cards, receipts), the harder it is to organize. People's level of patience is proportional to the size of the item.  However, these smaller items can still create piles of annoying clutter, and rob you of valuable space on your desktop.
There are a few distinctions with receipts….
Work versus personal receipts
Personal receipts – related to a tax deduction versus non-tax related
Work receipts – credit card versus cash
Work vs Personal
Work receipts should always be stored separately from personal receipts.  When you initially get a receipt, I recommend that you keep it in one location, such as your wallet, until you get back to your home or office.  Once at the office you should remove that receipt; at the very least you should empty your wallet of receipts on a regular basis when you pay your bills.
To separate your personal receipts separate from your work receipts, many find it easy to store the receipts in two separate boxes or bins on the desktop or on a shelf near the desk.  A box with no lid is easier to drop your receipts in, but it is more paper in view.  Another option is to use two folders with closed sides, that stand upright on your desk in a paper sorter.
Personal Receipts – Tax vs Non-Tax
You are only required to keep personal receipts related to tax deductions.  Examples of personal tax deductions are charitable contributions, home improvements, and medical deductions.  There are also benefits in keeping some non-tax receipts such as large furniture purchases.  For the rest of the receipts, the only reason to keep them is if there is an item that needs to be returned, but that usually occurs within 90 days.
Many find it helpful to have separate folders or envelopes for each types of receipt mentioned above.  For non-taxable receipts, I recommend you keep them until they show up on your credit card statement.  If you want to keep them 90 days for returns, store them in an envelope in general chronological order and purge the old receipts every 3-6 months.  If you want more control with your receipts, you can keep them in an expanding file that has 12 sections – one section for each month of receipts.
Work Receipts – Credit Card versus Cash
I recommend that small business owners keep their credit card receipts separate from cash receipts.  Why?  When it comes time to do your taxes, most business owners have financial software (e.g., QuickBooks) that can generate the information needed to perform a tax return.  If you don't have software, a tax accountant will usually ask to see business bank statements and credit card statements to determine the majority of your business expenses, but these statements and QuickBooks won't tell how you spent your business cash.  Therefore, tax accountants usually ask for your business cash receipts separately.
If you like to generate your tax return directly from receipts versus using financial software or your credit card statements, you can establish business receipt folders which each represent a type of expenses found on your business tax return.  The other option is to scan your receipts; receipt scanning software allows you to tag the receipt with tax information and run reports.

posted on: 1/31/2011 8:30:00 AM by Heather Cocozza
category: Business

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Use Your Space & Conquer Office Workflow

by Heather Cocozza

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About Heather:

Heather Cocozza, PMP, CPO® is a Professional Organizer who organizes and designs tailored home and office solutions. She is on the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)-WDC Board of Directors 2009-2010 and is the owner of Cocozza Organizing & Design, LLC. Prior to her organizing career, Heather Cocozza worked 13 years at IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers as an ERP Project Manager and at times traveled extensively while her "virtual" twins were between the ages of 0 to 3.

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