We all know what time of year it is: tax season is officially here. With just a little over a month left until the deadline, now is the time to get serious about gathering together all of the information and documents that will be needed. Tax preparation can be stressful, so why not minimize the stress by following some simple paperwork organizing steps.
One of the most common questions during tax preparation is, “What paperwork do I need?” Whether you are filing your taxes on your own or your accountant is doing so on your behalf, all of the relevant financial paperwork must be collected. I highly recommend creating a checklist detailing all of the documents and information that will be needed to complete your return. This is a really essential first step. As you compile this paperwork, you will be able to quickly identify what you have and to obtain copies of pertinent information that is missing.
The checklist should be customized for your specific situation and could include the following items:
- Social security card for you, your spouse, and dependents
- Business tax ID number
- Wage and earnings statements (this includes all W-2’s, 1099s, 1098s)
- Brokerage statements
- Records of any taxes paid during the year
- Receipts for charitable donations
- Records of interest paid on mortgage and student loans
- Records of retirement account contribution
- Documentation for the cost of childcare and education
- Receipts from medical expenses
- Proof of health insurance or an exemption certificate
- Any other tax-related income and expenses
You’ll note that most of these items are similar every year, but this year has a very important change. Added to the checklist is proof of health insurance or an exemption certificate. The IRS is not requiring proof to be sent in, but gathering those items may help you to answer questions regarding health care on your tax return. The professional organizer in NYC urges you to check out the IRS website for more information or ask your tax preparer.
Using a checklist is a really important first step in the process of preparing to file your taxes and will ensure you don’t overlook any crucial information.