Spreadsheets make tax season incredibly easy, and Tiller aids in this yearly financial task by helping you keep your spending and income data tidy and organized.
The best part is you don’t have to buy expensive tax preparation software.
If you’ve been consistently categorizing your transactions a few times a week you’re already off to a head start on the tax prep game. If you’re just getting started with Tiller or didn’t feel like categorizing all those old 2016 transactions, no worries, we’ve got you covered! We’ll explore a few tips and tricks to help you quickly organize your data so you’re ready when it’s time to file. You can actually use all these steps for your tax preparation even if you don’t use Tiller at all.
Gather your finance data
We generally recommend that you start with today or this week when it comes to categorizing transactions, but for tax prep it’s useful to have historical data categorized in your finance or budget spreadsheet. It can definitely be a bit time consuming, but these tips will help you quickly conquer your 2016 data. The goal is to get a total for your deductible spending such as home repairs, business expenses, charitable giving, medical expenses and many other common deductions.
If you need to get historical 2016 data into your finance spreadsheet you can reference the steps outlined in our How to Manually Import Your Bank Data into Your Tiller Sheet blog post. This is the first step in gathering data that’s not already in your sheet. You may need to do this for your credit cards, loans and other accounts as well. If you’ve used Mint in the past, and already connected all those accounts, that’s a really quick way to get the majority of your data into the tax prep spreadsheet. Check out Import Your Mint.com Transaction Data into a Google Sheet Spreadsheet blog post.
If you already have a money management spreadsheet with your historical 2016 data we’ve got you covered there too. You can get your automated bank data from your Tiller Sheet into that historical finance spreadsheet by using the Google Sheets’ IMPORTRANGE formula to combine the two. Check out our post Easily Import Your Financial Data From Tiller Into Another Google Sheet.
Categorize your spending
From there you can start categorizing any data that’s not already been categorized. The quick method to categorize a group of transactions utilizes a couple powerful built in features of Google Sheets. Simply sort by the Description column and then do a quick drag and fill on the categories for similar purchases.
While you may not remember the intent of every single purchase, the description will give you a good idea and is helpful for grouping transactions together, such purchases at your favorite local hardware store or the pharmacy. Check out the full blog post on How to Quickly Categorize Transactions in Your Finance Worksheet for easy and detailed steps about this process.
You may find that you need to think about your categories a little differently for tax prep, and if so, feel free to rename and shift categories around. The same steps for quickly categorizing can be used to re-categorize when you change a category name. Instead you’d sort by the category column and then update the assigned categories using the quick drag and fill method. You might even consider creating a brand new sheet only for this tax prep work.
Tie it all together
One last step if you only need to look at your personal or family finances for taxes is a quick pivot table to get your totals. Here you can filter the pivot table to only show you the total spending for your deductible categories. Now you have the data you need to fill in those sections when filing your taxes.
You can review our blog post on creating Monthly Spending Pivot Tables in Your Finance Spreadsheets for the specifics on how to create one and set up the filters. A useful additional tip is to add a Year column to your money worksheet. Follow the same steps for adding the month column, referenced in the pivot table blog, but use the Year formula instead of the month formula:
A2 in the formula represents row 2 of column A. If Column A is not the Date column in your sheet, change the column letter in the Year formula to correspond to the column letter for the Date in your sheet. Then you filter your pivot table on year, rather than the month, to get the year end totals for each of your selected categories.
The last and final tip is to share this data with anyone who might need to see it such as an accountant, spouse, business partner or other family member. Google Sheets makes it really easy to securely share your tax preparation worksheet with others. Check out our post Collaborative Financial Worksheets: Sharing Your Tiller Sheet for details about permissions and sharing.