Every year, millions of Americans use amateur or professional tax preparers to prepare and file their tax returns. But using a pro doesn't mean that you don't still play a critical role in getting your taxes done. Those who fail to provide their preparers with all of the necessary documents and information may miss out on important deductions or credits - or underreport their income and find themselves in hot water with the IRS. (Find out what you can deduct, read The 10 Most Overlooked Tax Deductions and Tax Tips: Filing To Your Advantage.)
In order to avoid these problems, here's what you need to bring with you when you visit the tax man this year:
|If you…||You\'ll Need…|
|Are a salaried employee||Your W-2 form(s)|
|Are self-employed, or earned rental, royalty or miscellaneous income||1099-MISC Form(s), receipts and/or detailed records of all expenses related to this income|
|Have unreimbursed childcare expenses||Records from the care provider breaking down all expenses paid|
|Paid alimony to an ex-spouse||Written record of what you paid, as well as a copy of the divorce decree or separation agreement if your preparer does not already have it on file|
|Have income from partnerships or passive activities||Form K-1|
|Have Social Security income||Form 1099-SSA|
|Made contributions to a traditional, SEP or SIMPLE IRA||Statement(s) from the custodian showing the amount of your contributions for the year|
|Have retirement income from an IRA, pension or annuity||Form 1099-R|
|Made any charitable contributions of either cash or property||Receipt from charity, along with qualified appraisal of any tangible property donated|
|Moved from one residence to another||Receipts of moving expenses|
|Paid federal or state estimated taxes||Records and proof of payments made|
|Have a mortgage…||Form 1098|
|Have unreimbursed educational expenses either for yourself or your dependents, including tuition, fees, room and board, lab costs, books and supplies||Form 1098E|
|Have investment income from interest, dividends and/or capital gains||Form(s) 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, and 1099-B|
|Have student loan interest||Your annual statement from each lender showing the amount of interest you paid|
Be prepared to do further research for specialized issues. Your tax preparer will tell you if any further information is needed. Contact your client or employer if you are missing any W-2s or 1099s. All issuers of these documents should be able to furnish you with copies if necessary.
It is also a good idea to bring copies of your last three tax returns to your preparer if he or she does not already have this on file. The IRS can provide you with copies of your tax forms if you do not have these on hand.
Complete form 4506-T and submit it to the IRS. They will send you a computerized copy of everything that you reported on your tax return for that year. Then you can contact each of your statement issuers and request a duplicate copy from them (you may have to pay a small fee to get this done). Of course, you can authorize or request your tax preparer or accountant to obtain these documents as well, but this will slow down the preparation process and may add to your fees. The IRS generally keeps copies of all of your tax documents anywhere from four to ten years.
Other documents that you may need could include divorce decrees, records of partially depreciated property, and any correspondence that you received from either the IRS or your state department of revenue.
The Bottom Line
Chances are you will only need a few of the documents listed above when you prepare your return. For more information about other tax forms that you may need, visit the IRS website and check out the "1040 Central" link.
TaxesAll taxpayers need to know three things when filing a 1040: which form to use, how to file and where to file. After reading this, you'll know all three.
Savings529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
TaxesThe W-9 form provides key data your clients need if you're an independent contractor. Just be sure you're not really an employee who should fill out a W-4.
RetirementLearn about the pros and cons of non-qualified deferred compensation (NQDC) plans, including the flexibility of non-ERISA plans and the potential for forfeiture.
TaxesLearn about the five states that do not charge sales taxes and about other taxes the states levy instead in order to generate revenue.
Investing BasicsHeld onto a stock for too long? Selling at a loss is never ideal, but it is possible to minimize the damage. Here's how.
TaxesGetting organized well before the deadline will curb your frustration and your tax liability.
TaxesIt's never too early to prepare for tax season. Next year features a host of tax law changes. Check our handy list to see which ones apply to you.
TaxesFrom grouping related expenses to factoring in the alternative minimum tax, here are some things you need to keep in mind when doing tax planning.
InsuranceIf you don't have health insurance, act NOW or you could owe penalties on your 2016 taxes, in addition to this year's.
A portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to federal taxation using tax brackets. Your tax bracket is determined ... Read Full Answer >>
Interest paid on personal loans is not tax deductible. If you take out a loan to buy a car for personal use or to cover other ... Read Full Answer >>
Traditional 401(k) contributions effectively reduce both adjusted gross income (AGI) and modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). ... Read Full Answer >>
While your fire or homeowners' insurance premiums may be included in your property payments, they are nondeductible expenses, ... Read Full Answer >>
The Personal Finance Society (PFS) and with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have outlined when a value-added tax ... Read Full Answer >>
Cafeteria plans are employer-sponsored benefit plans that provide both taxable and nontaxable, or qualified, benefit options ... Read Full Answer >>