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Louis Cohen
Living the retired vida loca in sunny San Diego
Living the retired vida loca in sunny San Diego

Louis's posts

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Everyone has a conference in San Diego sooner or later

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Marine Layer Arrives

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Seen out the window this morning

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A visit to LACMA and the LA Natural History Museum

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Yesterday's Women's March in San Diego

Lots of signs and pink pussy hats

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Today's sail out of San Diego

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A couple of models at the Maritime Museum of San Diego

Amateur Tax/Personal Finance Tip

Go to the websites for each of your credit cards, bank accounts (especially those with electronic bill or which you have authorized for on-line payments by merchants, and what the heck, your investment accounts as well.

Download all your calendar 2016 transactions at each site to a spreadsheet-readable format, usually .csv or Microsoft Excel .xls.

Load each of these up into a spreadsheet of your own (I like to use one spreadsheet called Transactions 2016 with multiple sheets for convenience). Save this where you can find it, where it gets backed up, and where it's secure - I use Google Drive.

Now that you have all your 2016 financial transactions in one place you can do the following things easily:

-Search for all tax deductible expenses including
-Charitable donations
-Car registrations (in California, search your spreadsheet for DMV)
-Medical expenses
-Property tax payments
Previous year state and local taxes
-Create pivot tables to see what you're spending money on. If you share credit cards with anyone, analyze the spending by cardholder - sure to improve domestic harmony.
-Check for things like automated payments for products/services you no longer use (eg software licenses) or for bogus charges like the Wells Fargo fraudulent accounts. You may see these listed in your bank transactions as online payment or ACH
-Look up 2016 information after the bank/credit card company/investment firm has taken the data down from their website.

Now set up another spreadsheet for your 2016 Tax Summary. It could have sections/sheets for things like:
-Charitable donations
-Other deductions (mortgage interest, property taxes, car registration, medical expenses, etc)

The charitable donation section should have columns like date, amount, deductible amount, recipient, their tax id, address, how you paid for it (eg, which credit card/bill pay/check) and where the receipt is (paper file, email, etc).

This year, fill it in as you go through your transactions, W-2's, and annual investment statements. Once you have it complete:
-Make a copy with 2017 in its name
-Leave the column headers and the rows with recipient information but blank out the amounts, dates, paid by, and receipts
-As you incur deductible expenses in 2017, fill in the spreadsheet right away.
-If you get email confirmations for deductible expenses, make sure you label/categorize each email with something like Tax 2017 so that you can find them easily in 2018 to double-check that your spreadsheet is complete

So now that you have a convenient summary of your key tax information for 2016, you can attack your taxes, or send the summary spreadsheet (and maybe the transactions too) to your tax preparer.

And you're already set up to make it easier next year.

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Google Photos reminded me that we went to Pasadena for the 2011 Rose Parade. There was a B-2 flyby, and the reprehensible Paula Deen was grand marshall
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