Tax Prep Checklist - Are You Ready?

Tax season.

Those two words can send some people running for the hills.

Gather Your Personal Information

First thing’s first - gather up all of the necessary personal information and past paperwork you need. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Social Security Numbers for you, your spouse, or your children (or Tax ID Numbers)
  • Dates of birth for you, your spouse, or your dependents
  • Childcare records (including the provider’s Tax ID Number)
  • W2 (or 1099) from your employer
  • Last year’s tax return
  • Unemployment income or state tax refund (1099-G)
  • Forms 1099, Schedules K-1, to verify amounts not reported on 1099s
  • Records of medical expenses if significant, and mileage to treatments
  • Records of all expenses (if you’re self-employed)
  • Business-use asset information for depreciation
  • Office in home information (if applicable)
  • Record of estimated tax payments made (Form 1040-ES)

If you want to have your return sent to you via direct deposit, you’ll also need your bank’s routing and account numbers.

Find Or Request the Right Paperwork

Not everyone has a cut-and-dry W2-only tax case. In fact, most of us don’t! If you have savings interest, a pension or retirement fund, or own a home, there are several forms you might need to find or request from the appropriate organizations. These include:

  • 1099-INT, 1099-OID, 1099-DIV (for any interest or dividend income)
  • Income from sales of stock or property (1099-B, 1099-S)
  • HSA account contributions
  • Long-term care premium payments
  • Medical and dental premium payments, including Medicare
  • Gambling income and losses
  • Forms 1098 for mortgage interest statements
  • Real estate tax records
  • Records for charitable donations

There are a variety of other miscellaneous forms you may need this filing season. You can find a more comprehensive checklist of different tax cases, and what type of information you need for your unique situation, here.

Think Through Your Last Year

Tax season is tricky, because your life can change so much year-to-year. Before you file this year, take time to think through the last 12 months. Was there anything you missed? Did you buy or sell a home? Did you add a new member to your family? Did an aging parent move in with you? Did you roll-over a 401k into an IRA? If you can think of anything you did differently than the previous filing year, make a note of it. You may need to fill out an additional form, or your CPA might be able to leverage your recent life change to save you money on your return.  And given that the tax laws have changed, it will be especially important to know what you need to properly file and get everything the law allows.

Find a CPA

Tax filing, especially as you near retirement and experience an increasingly complicated financial life, is nothing to sneeze at. Making sure you’re filing correctly can be stressful, but it’s necessary to keep you in good standing with the IRS and to mitigate the impact of taxes on your wealth for years to come. So, why leave it to chance? Finding a CPA that you know and trust to do your filing for you is in your best interest. Need a recommendation? Reach out! I’d love to point you to a tax professional who can help you with your unique filing situation.

Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.

"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.

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