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Tax filing preparation checklist

CheckmarkIn addition to the tax statements that are arriving this month, you'll need some other information to file your return.

Today's Daily Tax Tip offers a checklist of what to round up, for either yourself if you plan to file on your own or for your tax professional.

General information and documents that will be useful include:

  • Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse and all dependents.
  • Last year's federal return. If you live in a state that collects taxes, dig out that old return, too. They can serve as guides to this year's filing.
  • Records of estimated tax payments you made last year, both to the U.S. Treasury as well as your state tax department.
  • The personal identification number (PIN) you used when you e-filed last year. You'll need your PIN or your adjusted gross income (AGI) to verify your identity so you can electronically submit your return again this year. If you don't have it, you can select a new PIN for this year's filing.
  • W-2s for wages and salaries.
  • If you receive tips as part of your job, records of those payments.
  • Out of work for a while last year? Make sure you have your W-2G showing the unemployment you received.
  • Gambling proceeds.
  • Alimony documentation. Payments an ex receives are taxable income. The payer can deduct the spousal support amounts.
  • Retiree income statements for both pensions and IRAs, as well as Social Security benefits.
  • Retirement plan contribution statements.
  • 1098s for mortgage interest paid. If you bought your house last year, pull out that closing statement; it contains valuable tax information.
  • 1099s for interest, dividends and miscellaneous payments.
  • K-1s from partnerships, S corporations, estates and trusts.

If you itemize deductions, in order to complete Schedule A you'll need records and receipts for:

  • Medical and dental expenses. This includes drugs, doctor office visit payments, dental care costs, hospital bills, medical insurance premiums as long as they aren't paid at work via pre-tax dollars, long-term care insurance premiums and the mileage to and from physicians' offices.
  • Taxes you paid, such as state and local income or sales taxes, real estate taxes and personal property taxes. If you bought something big, say a car, track down that receipt because you can add those tax dollars to the standard state and local tax amount for your state.
  • Mortgage interest and points. This is on the Form 1098 tor substitute form noted previously.
  • Interest paid on a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.
  • Charitable contributions, regardless of whether as cash, credit card, other assets or household goods and clothing.
  • Casualty and theft losses. If you sustained damages from a major disaster, gather all that information, including recovery payments from your insurance company.
  • Work related costs, both for unreimbursed employee expenses and money spent searching for a new job.
  • Investment expenses.
  • Gambling losses. They can offset any taxable gambling or prize winnings you must report.

Small business owners who file Schedule C will need all receipts and documentation pertaining to the company, including:

  • Income statements, such as 1099-MISC forms and payment stubs for amounts not required to be reported on a 1099.
  • Home size and size of space used as a home office.
  • Self-employed health insurance payments.
  • Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE and other self-employed pension plan contributions.
  • Details on business use of your car.

In addition to getting your filing documents in order, you also need to ask yourself some questions, such as:

Have the Internal Revenue Service or your state or local tax offices contacted you about any unresolved tax matters?

Did your marital status change during the year?

Are you supporting anyone not living with you?

Did you adopt a child or begin the adoption process last year?

Did you pay for child or another dependent's care so you could go to work?

Did you receive any assistance from your employer to pay for education expenses, child care costs or adoption expenses?

Did you or any member of your household pay any college costs?

Did you hire household help?

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? If so, did you rent it out last year?

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 have money in a foreign account?

Did you make any large purchases, such as a vehicle?

Did you have any nonresidential debt that was canceled?

Did you serve in the military? If so, did you receive combat pay?

Your answers to these questions could have tax implications, either saving you some tax dollars or adding to the check you have to write the U.S. Treasury. But whichever applies, it's better to know the answers before you file.

These are just a few of the issues you need to consider at tax time. If you've ever hired a tax pro, you've probably received a comprehensive packet with these and many more things to think about and bring to meetings with your adviser.

Please feel free to let me and the ol' blog's readers know what else should be added to this list via a comment below. Thanks!

You also might find these items of interest:


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I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This piece of writing posted at this web site is really good.


Awesome article.

Personal Injury Attorneys Cincinnati

Wow, it is good to find this, a checklist, this is just very good. Of course a lot of people will benefit from this, so not to miss anything when filing for tax. Thank you for sharing this!

Sheldon Harding

Great easy to understand checklist.

"Translating taxes into money-saving English." It seems like I have tried this my whole career, so I appreciate others doing it and doing it well.

My resources page on my website also has a start at people making their own checklist as I find taxpayers often need the same things every year except for the new items they might have and we should discuss.


I used Turbo Tax. They really wanted me to pay to use their more sophisticated web offerings and file the state form, but I resisted. It's easier to use than Free Fillable Forms. The state of Illinois offers free electronic filing. It'll even fill in most of the information for you if you used the website the previous year. Just make sure you write down the PIN(s) it assigns to you.

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Thanks for posting this. I've been wondering about all this. I will have to follow these steps.

Colleen Wisor


This year was my first time using EFTPS for my estimated taxes. In the last quarter, my bosses started taking taxes out of my paycheck, so I do have a W-2 I need to file. Will EFTPS send me a tax form showing the payments I have made for 2012? I checked the website and did not find anything that suggested so. If not, can I just claim it on my Form 1040?


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