This post is part of the TaxACT #BeatTheDeadline blog tour which shares tips on how to make tax time a smooth and easy process before the April 15 deadline. TaxACT provides the tools and guidance to help you confidently file taxes easy and fast. Do your own taxes today at TaxACT. You got this.
The tax filing deadline is quick approaching, and if you haven't already you'll need to pull together all of your paperwork, receipts, tax reporting forms and more.
The problem is this – you only do your taxes once a year, and it's not always easy to remember everything that you need to have ready to go when it comes time to file.
Today I though I would do a quick once over and take a look at some of the key things you'll need to pull together to do your taxes.
Tax Preparation Checklist
When doing your taxes there are a lot of things you'll need to remember to have handy. You'll need to have your personal information, information about your income, information about income adjustments, taxes paid as well as itemized deductions and credits. So let's get started.
What personal information should you have handy when doing your taxes?
- Social Security numbers for you, your spouse and dependents.
- Date of birth for you, your spouse and all dependents.
- Tax returns for the last two years for you and your spouse.
- Information about your occupation, as well as your spouse's occupation.
- Change of address (if you moved).
- Bank name, routing and account numbers (for refunds or payments)
Next up you'll want to have forms for all of your income sources.
- W2s for you and your spouse's employment income.
- 1099-MISC forms for any independent contract work you performed.
- 1099-INT interest income, 1099-DIV dividend income, 1099-OID.
- 1099-G unemployment compensation forms.
- 1099-C cancellation of debt forms.
- 1099-R distribution from IRA, 401k, etc.
- 1099-S forms for income from sale of a property.
- SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received.
- Alimony received.
- Business or farming income details.
- Rental property income and expenses.
- Hobby income and expenses.
Adjustments to your income
You can reduce the amount of income that is taxed by claiming adjustments to your income. Have these records available:
- Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid.
- Form 1098-T for tuition paid.
- Receipts or canceled checks for expenses paid for classroom supplies, etc – for teachers.
- IRA contribution records for the year.
- Receipts for qualifying energy-efficient home improvements.
- Records of health savings account contributions.
- Self-employed health insurance payment records.
- Itemized records of moving expenses.
- Alimony paid.
- Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE and other self employed pension plans.
Deductions and credits
There are a host of deductions and credits you can take advantage of in order to lower your tax burden. Who wouldn't want to take advantage and keep more money in their pocket, right?
- Form 1098, record of mortgage interest paid, private mortgage insurance (PMI) paid, and points paid on any mortgages.
- Child care costs including provider's name, address, tax ID and amount you paid.
- Education costs via form 1098-T.
- Adoption costs. Make sure to have the Social Security number of the child, and records of legal, medical and transportation costs.
- Charitable donations that you made including cash amounts (like cash donations to a church), donation receipts, value of donated property.
- Medical and dental expense records, to take deduction for costs greater than 7.5% of AGI.
- Casualty and theft losses.
- Records of miscellaneous tax deductions for un-reimbursed employee expenses, union dues, etc.
- Home business expenses including home and office size for home office deduction.
- Rental property income and expenses.
- Business use of a vehicle expenses including log showing total miles driven (other than commuting), parking and tolls paid, receipts for actual expenses.
- Information in order to claim a premium tax credit via a qualified health plan in a health insurance marketplace
Taxes you paid
You'll also want to have a record of the taxes that you've paid throughout the year.
- State income taxes paid.
- local income taxes paid.
- Real estate taxes paid.
- Personal property taxes.
- Vehicle license and registration fees.
Other relevant information
In some limited cases you might need the following information handy at tax time as well.
- Estimated tax payments you've made if you're self employed. If you're a blogger like me, you'll need this!
- Prior year refunds that were applied to the current year.
- Foreign bank account(s) information.
- Form 1095-A if you enrolled in an insured plan through the Marketplace
- Marketplace exemption certificate if you applied for and received an exemption from the Marketplace
What Does It Cost To Prepare And File Your Taxes?
Tax filing costs are going to vary pretty widely depending on how you file (paid tax preparer vs. doing it yourself), what your income level is (There is a free-file option for some lower income folks) and other factors.
- Hiring someone costs on average: $273. (source)
- Using an online software costs: Anywhere from $80-120 on average, depending on your filing options, number of state returns, etc. (source). Of course some software like TaxACT starts free for some filers!
So that's a quick look at what information you're going to need handy come tax time. Did we leave something off the list? let us know in the comments!
Beating the tax deadline doesn’t have to be stressful. With TaxACT, everything you need to confidently prepare and e-file your taxes is right at your fingertips. You got this. File your simple or complex federal return FREE today with TaxACT Free Edition.