Your Personal Tax Prep Checklist – Check Off These Documents Before Starting Your Taxes

Tax Planning

If you are eager to file your taxes, either because you’re due a tax refund or you just want to get it out of the way, the IRS has announced they will be accepting paper and electronic returns starting Monday, January 29th, 2018. However, you can get started now and be first in line for your tax refund: TurboTax is accepting tax returns today and will securely hold them until the IRS opens, so you can be one of the first in line for your maximum tax refund. The average tax refund last year was close to $3,052, so there is no reason to wait!

TurboTax makes tax preparation incredibly easy. All you need to do answer a few simple questions and TurboTax will give you the deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers, but you should make sure you have all of you’re documents in one place before you sit down to file so you don’t forget anything.

To help you gather the needed documentation, we’ve prepared a personal tax prep checklist to help you get ready. Not all the items on this checklist will apply to every taxpayer, but use it as a guide to begin collecting information that’s relevant to your situation.

Collecting Income Information

W-2’s are the obvious starting point, but there’s usually more paperwork necessary depending on your income situation. Other income documents you may need include:

  • 1099-MISC for additional income for which income taxes were not withheld
  • 1099-SSA for Social Security income
  • 1099-INT or 1099-DIV for interest or dividend income
  • K-1’s reporting partnership or S-Corporation income
  • 1099-R for pension, IRA and annuity income
  • 1099-G reporting a state income tax refund or unemployment insurance income
  • W-2G reporting gambling winnings (you should also have records proving gambling expenses)
  • Documentation of alimony received, including the social security number of the payee
  • 1099-B or 1099-S, reporting income from the sale of stocks and other investments
  • If you’re self-employed, a complete record of all your business income. QuickBooks Self-Employed easily transfers your business income to your TurboTax Self-Employed tax return
  • Evidence of rental income received if you own investment property

Gathering Expense Documentation

Gathering expense documentation usually comes from a variety of different sources. Third-party documentation includes:

  • 1098 reporting mortgage interest and property taxes paid
  • 1098-T showing educational expenses
  • 1098-E reporting student loan interest paid
  • Statements from charities reporting contributions
  • 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C, reporting health insurance premiums paid, and to whom

In many cases, third-party documentation of other tax-deductible expenses won’t be coming from a third party. If not, you may need to gather the additional paperwork. These can include the following:

  • Records of self-employment expenses. QuickBooks Self-Employed can track your business expenses and transfer your business expenses to your TurboTax Self-Employed tax return
  • Expenses for rental property, including marketing, repairs, maintenance, utilities and insurance costs
  • Paperwork for the purchase of depreciated assets for your business or investment property
  • Property taxes paid that were not reported on Form 1098 by a lender
  • Records of estimated income tax payments made for the tax year (federal and state)
  • Cost basis of investments sold, if the information is not provided by a broker
  • Expenses related to investment activity (seminars attended, subscriptions, etc.)
  • Records of alimony paid
  • Charitable contributions made, and not reported by the recipient organization
  • Records of mileage driven for business, employment, medical or charitable activities; plus evidence of payment for tolls and parking
  • Amounts paid for health insurance, out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision expenses, and long-term care insurance
  • Childcare expenses paid, if not supplied by the provider
  • Wages paid to a domestic care provider, including that provider’s tax ID number
  • An itemized list of higher education expenses paid out-of-pocket
  • Moving expenses
  • Job hunting expenses
  • Cost of preparation of last year’s income tax returns
  • Sales tax paid on major purchases, especially an automobile

Personal Tax-Related Documents

There is certain non-financial information that’s necessary to prepare your income tax returns. Those documents can include:

  • Social Security numbers for each member of your household
  • Copies of the prior year’s income tax returns
  • Income information for your dependent children
  • Home office information – square footage of office, and of your home
  • Your ex-spouse’s Social Security number if you receive or pay alimony or child support
  • Marketplace exemption certificate, if you received an exemption from your state’s health insurance exchange

Not every item in each list will apply to you. You can review last year’s return as a starting point, then modify the list as you remember tax-related events last year.

To help, highlight the ones that apply to you and begin collecting the needed documentation in a safe place. I prefer to put them in a folder, physically for mailed forms and electronically for digital forms. When it comes time to sit down and do your taxes, don’t worry if you don’t have all of your documents in front of you. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and remind you of the information you need.

If you have tax questions while you are doing your taxes, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent and get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live tax experts can even review, sign, and e-file your return for you.

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