This article was last edited on February 16, 2016. For updated information on tax checklists, read more here.
Before you begin to prepare your tax return, go through the following checklist. Make sure to highlight the areas that apply to you, and have that information available. By having all your information handy and checking off the other items on the checklist, your filing process will go that much faster. Getting you closer to that refund! Please note that this is not a complete list, but contains common forms and information needed.
1. Gather All Your Personal Information
Your Personal Information Needed
ð Your social security number or tax ID number
ð If you plan on using direct deposit for your refund,you will need your bank account number and routing number
Information for Your Spouse
ð Spouse’s Full Name
ð Social Security Number or tax ID number
ð If your spouse is paying alimony from a previous marriage, you will need the amount of any alimony paid and ex-spouse’s full name and social security number
Information for Your Kids
ð Children’s Full Name(s)
ð Date of Birth
ð Social Security Number(s) or tax ID number(s)
ð If you have childcare/ day care expenses, make sure you have your records, including the provider’s tax ID number, name and address, if applicable
2. Gather Any Information About Your Income
ð W-2 Form(s): if you were an employee
ð 1099-MISC: if you were/are self-employed or an independent contractor
ð 1099-G: if you collected unemployment or state or local tax refunds
ð 1099-R, Form 8606: if you made payments or withdrew money from a retirement account or IRA
ð Social Security/ RRB income (1009-SSA, RRB-1099): if you collect social security income
ð 1099-S: for income from sale of a property
ð 1099_INT, _DIV, -B or K-1s: for investments of if you receive interest income
ð Any Miscellaneous Income: this can include gambling winnings, jury duty, medical savings account, scholarships, etc.
3. Gather Any Information About Taxes You Have Paid
ð State and local income taxes paid
ð Real estate taxes paid
ð Personal property taxes
ð Vehicle license fees based on value of vehicle
4. Gather Any Information Regarding Adjustments To Your Income
Adjustments to your income can help to reduce the amount of your income that is taxed, which can increase your tax refund, or lower the amount you owe.
ð 1098-E : if you paid student loan interest ( or loan statements for student loans)
ð 1098-T: if you paid tuition (of your receipts/ canceled check for tuition paid for post-high school)
ð Are you a teacher? Make sure to have all canceled checks or receipts for expense paid for classroom supplies
ð The Amount of Alimony Paid
ð Records of IRA contributions made during the year
5. Reduce Your Tax By Claiming Itemized Deductions and/ or Credits
There are a number of itemized deduction and credits that help lower your tax burden.
ð Forms 1098 or other mortgage interest statements: if you made mortgage payments
ð Charitable Donations : cash amounts, official receipts, canceled checks
ð Records of home business expenses , home size and office size, home expenses
ð Child Care/ Day Care Costs: Provider’s name, address, tax ID, and amount paid
ð Education costs: Form 1098-T (list-above) and any qualified education expenses
6. Check For New Tax Laws
The tax laws are always changing. Make sure you understand what tax credits and deductions are available to you, as well as those that might have expired.
7. File Electronically
To ensure faster processing of your return the IRS states that you should file electronically. When you e-file , the IRS will receive and process your return faster than filing a paper return by a couple of weeks. By having your return processed faster, this can help you get your refund more quickly.
8. Choose Direct Deposit
If you expect to receive a refund, choose direct deposit. Direct depositing your tax refund into your bank account means your refund is available as soon as it is received by the bank. There is no delay however, a deposited paper check takes more time to clear the banking system. Because there is no delay time for the mail, you can also cut days and weeks off the time versus a paper mailed tax refund check.