If you expect to get a refund, then your initial answer to my query about your readiness to file your taxes will be an immediate and emphatic "Duh!"
Even if you use tax software and e-file, whether via your own computer or via Free File, you need to do some pre-filing preparation
The same is also true if you take your tax material to a professional for filing.
So here are some things to think about before you sit down at your PC or Mac or head out to your accountant's office, overflowing shoebox in hand.
First, you'll need to round up some tax documents, such as:
- Your prior year federal and state return
- W-2s for wages, salaries, tips and pensions
- 1098s for mortgage interest paid
- 1099s for interest, dividends, state tax refunds and other payments
- K-1s from partnerships, S corporations, estates and trusts
- Any correspondence you've received from tax agencies
Also be prepared to answer the following questions and provide details (and documentation) where necessary.
Did your marital status change during the year?
Did you receive or pay any alimony payments?
Did you receive or pay any alimony?
Do you have any dependents living with you or are you supporting anyone not living with you?
Did you incur child care or dependent care expenses?
Did you or any member of your household pay college expenses?
Did you buy a new home last year?
Did you make any major improvements to your home?
Did you sell, refinance or face any foreclosure transactions on your personal residence?
Do you own a second residence or any other real estate?
Did you move in connection with a job?
Were you a resident of, or did you have income in, more than one state during the year?
Did you receive any COBRA health insurance premium assistance?
Did you contribute to or convert any retirement plan?
Did you receive distributions from any retirement plan?
Did you make cash or noncash charitable contributions?
Did you buy, sell, or trade any assets?
Did you make any large purchases, such as a vehicle?
Did you sustain any casualty or theft losses?
Did you have any nonresidential debt that was canceled?
Whew! That's a lot of stuff to think about even before you or your tax preparer begin to tackle the actual forms.
And I know I didn't cover it all. So feel free to leave a comment about other pre-filing data and preparation we need to consider before we can start filling in our forms.
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- The 12 Tax Tips of Christmas: #12 Hire a Pro
- Tackling tax recordkeeping
- Check those statements
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