Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes
It’s that time of year again, and you may start feeling overwhelmed when you think about getting your paperwork together and calculating your income tax payment or refund. Tax season can cause anxiety for even the most relaxed people! Steady your nerves with this checklist to help you prepare for filing your taxes and go into everybody's least favorite season with an organized plan of attack. (See also: 15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax)
Gather Personal Information
You need several documents to get started.
- Social Security number
- Spouse's and/or dependents' Social Security numbers
- Last year’s tax return
Gather Financial Information
As you get ready to file your income taxes, take some time to locate the following documents. If you’re like me, they’re not already in an organized filing cabinet where they really should be!
- Employment W-2s
- Income statements for self-employment or business, including MISC-1099s and Schedule K-1s
- Information for any taxes you have paid during the tax year (estimated tax payments, property tax, sales tax)
- Mortgage interest statement if you own a house
- College tuition statements, student loan interest, education expenses (if you are a college student)
- Retirement account contributions or distribution documents
- Charitable donations made throughout the year
- Medical expense statements and receipts, medical savings account contributions
- Job search expenses or moving related expenses
- 1099-C forms, if you cancelled any debt during the year
- Investment forms for dividends or interest income earned
- Record of alimony received
- Health insurance payments (if self-employed)
- Energy efficient home improvement records and receipts
- Child care records, if you have children and pay for daycare or babysitters so you can work
Gather Home Business Information
If you run a business out of your home, you’re going to need additional information to complete your taxes.
- Records for income
- Office and supply expenses
- Utility expenses
- Total square footage of your home
- Square footage of your office space or supply storage (so you can deduct a percentage of your utility bill, rent or mortgage, etc.)
- Car mileage or expense records if you use your vehicle for business
File Your Taxes
Once you have all of the necessary documents in an organized pile, you will find it much easier to file your taxes, whether you do them by hand or use tax preparation software to help. Even if you enlist the service of a professional tax preparer, having everything you need in hand, before you schedule your appointment, will make the entire process easier — and a lot less stressful.
What do you do to make your tax filing go as smoothly as possible?