The year is slowly drawing to an end, which means tax season is creeping around the corner. For many Americans, this can be a draining period filled with mountains of calculations and paperwork.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little preparation, making it through tax season doesn’t have to be big trouble at all. All you need to do is put together a tax preparation checklist and follow through on the steps to take you to the other side.
What needs to be on your checklist, and how can you go about being as prepared as possible? Read on, and we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
Get Your Personal Information Together
While most of your taxes will require information about your financial situation, there’s also some personal information you’ll need to provide as well. Ensuring you have all this information in one place before starting your taxes can help you get through the process much quicker.
What will you need to have on hand? Your social security number for one, but also the social security numbers of your spouse and any dependents you might be claiming.
If you’re planning on having your tax refund submitted directly into your account, you’ll need to have your bank account routing information on hand as well. Providing this information can help you avoid having an overdue tax return.
It also might be helpful to have your tax return from the previous year printed out and in hand in case you need to reference it as you go through the process this time around.
Information About Your Income
After you’ve gathered the personal information that you need, it will be time to pull together information for the jobs that you’ve worked over the past year. These will need to cover your spouse as well if you’re filing jointly.
The most essential paperwork you’ll need to gather and organize is your W-2 forms. These should have been sent by those businesses or organizations that hired and paid you over the course of the year.
If you didn’t receive a W-2 form from an entity that you worked for, it’s important to reach out and request one.
There are several other forms you’ll also need to get your hands on if you hope to file your taxes correctly and with relative ease. If you’ve received any income from investments you’ve made, whether that be in the stock market or elsewhere, there are forms that you’ll need to submit. You can find an income tax calculator online that can help you get accurate numbers. Most of the time they’re free to use.
These could be various 1099 forms, K-1s, or stock option information you should be able to get from your brokerage firm.
There is also a separate form needed to indicate income that you received from the government. Most typically, this will be needed if you were on unemployment at any point in the year. The form you’ll likely need is the 1099-G.
Additional Forms of Income
If you’ve received income from rental properties, you’ll need to submit a fairly large amount of information on that money coming in as well. You’ll need a good deal of info on the property as well as profit/loss statements that you can submit along with your return.
If you’ve sold property completely, you’ll need to provide escrow closing statements and any canceled debt info. You can find this all on form 1099-C from the IRS.
It’s also worth taking a moment to think about if there are any other less typical forms of income you’ve received over the course of the previous tax year. Perhaps you were on jury duty for a number of days and paid for your time.
Maybe you won a good amount of money gambling at the casino or were awarded a large sum of money in the form of a financial scholarship.
These forms of income all need to be accounted for in your tax return. You can do a little research on whatever additional form of income applies to your case and submit the appropriate information.
Information Relevant to Tax Deductions
Of course, when most people think about their taxes, they are often thinking of ways they can try to save on what they will owe to the government. There are many tax deductions you may be eligible for, but you’ll need to have that information at the ready as well.
Which deductions should you look into?
If you have children, you can deduct some of the costs of their care. If you hope to do this, you’ll need to have the care provider’s name, address, and tax information on hand when you sit down to do your taxes.
If you hope to deduct from payments made to your home mortgage, you’ll also need information on those payments cued up. You’ll also need to have Form 1098 from the IRS at the ready.
Charitable donations can also easily be deducted when you do your tax return, but you’ll need to have a lot of paperwork to go with them. You’ll need the cash value of your donations as well as proof from the charity donation that is dated and filled out properly.
Creating a Tax Preparation Checklist
If you want to avoid tax time, creating a big headache for you this year, consider creating a tax preparation checklist. Ensuring you get all the relevant paperwork and information ahead of time will make the process of doing your taxes much, much smoother.
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