When preparing taxes, one challenge is collecting all of the necessary documents. Tax-related papers flow into a home at all times of the year, not just in the spring. It’s easy to lose important papers.

I’ve found a method to eliminate the headache completely.

I have a bill-paying area at my desk: a small cubby-hole specifically designated for bills, financial statements, and receipts. Each January I take a small manilla envelope and label it — TAXES 2006, for example. During the year, I place each tax-related document inside: mutual fund statements, charitable contribution receipts, tax forms, mortgage information, etc.

At the end of they year, it’s a trivial matter to sort these documents and then to submit them to my tax preparer.