The beginning of a new year brings the need to recap the previous one for Uncle Sam. Here are some tips and a checklist to help get you organized.
- Look for your tax forms. Forms W-2, 1099, and 1098 will start hitting your inbox or mailbox in the next couple of weeks. If you have not already done so, review last year’s records and create a checklist of the forms to make sure you get them all.
- Collect your tax documents using this checklist. Using a tax organizer or last year’s tax return, sort your tax records to match the items on your tax return. Here is a list of the more common tax records:
- Informational tax forms (W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, 1095-A) that disclose wages, interest income, dividends and capital gain/loss activity
- Other forms that disclose possible income (jury duty, unemployment, IRA distributions and similar items)
- Business K-1 forms
- Social Security statements
- Mortgage interest statements
- Tuition paid statements
- Property tax statements
- Mileage log(s) for business, moving, medical and charitable driving
- Medical, dental and vision expenses
- Business expenses
- Records of any asset purchases and sales, including cryptocurrency
- Health insurance records (including Medicare and Medicaid)
- Charitable receipts and documentation
- Bank and investment statements
- Credit card statements
- Records of any out of state purchases that may require use tax
- Records of any estimated tax payments
- Home sales (or refinance) records
- Educational expenses (including student loan interest expense)
- Casualty and theft loss documentation (federally declared disasters only)
- Moving expenses (military only)
If you aren’t sure whether something is important for tax purposes, retain the documentation. It is better to save unnecessary documentation than to later wish you had the document to support your deduction.
- Clean up your auto log. You should have the necessary logs to support your qualified business miles, moving miles, medical miles and charitable miles driven by you. Gather the logs and make a quick review to ensure they are up to date and totaled.
- Coordinate your deductions. If you and someone else share a dependent, confirm you are both on the same page as to who will claim the dependent. This is true for single taxpayers, divorced taxpayers, taxpayers with elderly parents/grandparents, and parents with older children.
With proper organization, your tax filing experience can be timely and uneventful.