It’s never too early to start organizing information for your tax return. However, now is a great time to really focus on this effort. One thing I recommend is to attach this checklist to a paper folder or post it in a computer folder where you collect electronic files. That way you have easy access to the information you should be gathering.
This information informs the IRS who is filing the taxes, where to deposit the refund, and who is covered on the return, e.g., dependents.
- Social Security numbers and birth dates for you, your spouse, and any dependents you are claiming.
- Last year’s return is helpful, but not required.
- Bank account routing number if you wish to have a refund deposited directly into an account.
- W-2 forms for you / your spouse
- 1099-C forms for any cancellation of debt
- 1099-G forms for unemployment income or state/local tax refunds
- Independent contractor work statements
- Payments/distributions from IRAs or retirement plans
- Income from the sale of property
- Investment or interest income
- Social Security benefits received
- Business or farming income profit/loss statement and capital equipment information
- Rental property income and expenses, profit/loss statement, or suspended loss information
- Prior-year installment sale information, principal and interest collected during the year, Social Security Number, and address for payer
- Miscellaneous income from jury duty, gambling winnings, medical savings account, scholarships, etc.
Income Adjustments / Itemized Deductions
These items may help to reduce your taxable income, which could increase your tax refund or lower the amount you owe.
- Student loan interest paid or loan statements for student loans
- Tuition paid (or receipts/canceled checks for tuition paid) for post-secondary school, or an eligible elementary or secondary school
- For teachers – canceled checks or receipts for classroom supply expenses
- IRA or retirement savings contributions to an employer-sponsored 401(k) made during the year
- Receipts for qualifying energy-efficient home improvements
- Records of medical / health savings account contributions
- Self-employed health insurance payment records
- Self-employed pension plans
- Medical bills (if they total more than 10 percent of adjusted gross income for most taxpayers)
- Property taxes and mortgage interest
- Charitable donations
- State and local taxes
- Earned Income tax credit
- Mortgage interest
- Gambling losses
- Home office deduction
These are like deductions, but better. These provide a dollar-for-dollar cut in any taxes you might owe. Documentation for these items is required.
- American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits
- Child tax credits
- Earned income tax credit
- Adoption credit
- Saver’s credit for IRAs, restrictions apply