The end of the year is coming up quickly, and with the end of the year comes tax time! Tax time is a time of year that many folks look forward to because they use their taxes as a way to save and get a once a year windfall in the form of a tax refund. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing that, the fact is that the average tax refund for 2010 was around $2,892, so a lot of people will be ready to file as soon as they can. They want their money!
2011 Tax Time Checklist
When filling out your taxes there are a lot of things you need to remember to have handy. In fact when filling out your taxes there are 165 blanks on tax form 1040, 127 on Form 1040A, 94 on Schedule C, 77 on 1040EZ, 55 on Schedule A, and 44 on Schedule B! That’s a lot of blanks to fill in!
So what information should you have handy when doing your taxes?
- Tax returns for the last two years
- Birth dates and occupation(s)
- Change of address (if you moved)
- Bank name, routing and account numbers (for refunds or payments)
- Spouse name and social security number
- Dependents names and social security numbers
- W2s and 1099s for all income and compensation
- 1099 Interest, 1099 dividends, 1099 Misc, 1099C cancellation of debt, 1099G unemployment compensation, 1099R distribution from IRA, 401k, etc.
- Last year’s state tax refund
- health care costs if they were greater than 7.5% of AGI
- State and local income tax, car sales tax
- Charitable contributions
- Theft and casualty losses
- Home office deductions
- IRA or contributions to pension plans
- Student loan interest
- Moving expenses
- Student tuition fees
- Estimated federal and state tax payments
- First time homebuyer tax credit info
- Energy efficient home improvement tax credit info
- Credit for child and dependent care info
- Education credit info
- Child tax credit/adoption credit info
So there’s a good start on the information that you should have handy when filing your taxes this year.
What Does It Cost To Prepare And File Your Taxes?
The costs for doing your taxes can vary pretty widely depending on if you’re hiring someone to do them for you, you file a paper form yourself, or if you use an online software to file (which 32% of people did in 2010). Your amount of income made can also have an impact as there is free-file available for some lower income folks.
- Hiring someone costs on average: $230.
- Using an online software costs: Anywhere from $18-60 on average, depending on which software or site you use.
Reasons To Pay Someone To Do Your Taxes
There are a variety of reasons that you might want to hire someone to do your taxes for you.
- You’re self employed and have a complicated tax situation.
- You got married or divorced in the past year, and your situation is changing.
- You’ve bought or sold investments during the year, or received a large windfall.
- You just don’t do well with complicated topics like taxes.
- You think you could save a lot of money using tax strategies you don’t understand.
I’m sure there are more reasons to pay someone to do it for you, tell us yours in the comments!
What do you think of our checklist. Did we leave anything off the list – what would you add? Any other tax time tips for the rest of us?
Tim @ Faith and Finance says
Thanks for the tips! I’ll be using this list as a reminder for sure!
Here’s my $0.02…
Double check your W2 and make sure your employer correctly marked your retirement contributions as pretax, Roth, or employer contribution. You want to make sure this is correct so that you can benefit from any deductions available to you. I’ve seen too many employers fill this out incorrectly, so it’s worth a second look.
Peter Anderson says
Good reminder. Thanks Tim!
Be sure to include your deductions for annual car tags and any mileage that was done on a volunteer basis.