TAX PREP CHECKLIST
Here’s What You’ll Need Before You File
Like it or not, tax season is already upon us. And when life changes, your tax requirements change with it. If the thought of scaling a mountain of different tax forms and documents gives you TAXiety, you’re not alone. To find out exactly what you need on hand for this year’s tax prep, read on.
What Documents Do I Need to File Taxes?
When filing taxes, the average taxpayer needs to contend with two types of documents: personal information documents and tax forms. Personal information documents include your driver’s license and your social security card. It's also ideal to have your past two tax returns on hand to help provide additional clarity if you get stuck.
This year, you will also want to keep handy any official documents related to your stimulus or child tax credit payments, including IRS Letter 6475 and IRS Letter 6419, respectively.
After you’ve gathered your personal information documents, it’s time to procure your tax forms. Depending on their employment situation, the typical taxpayer will need a W-2 Form or a 1099 Form.
What’s the difference between W-2 and 1099?
Although they serve similar functions — reporting your annual income — it is crucial to know which form you need on hand when filing your taxes to avoid misclassification. The key is knowing your payroll status; workers that are considered “on the payroll” of their company receive a W-2, while everyone else receives a 1099. The typical W-2 worker is a traditional employee, while 1099s are used for non-payroll income including wages for workers are considered “self-employed”; they own businesses, freelance, take consultancy or gig work, or operate as independent contractors.
Tax Prep Checklist
To help you get organized and confident this tax season, Liberty Tax has created a simple, concise tax prep checklist. Print it, read through it, and highlight the items that apply to you! Then, check them off one by one as you assemble everything you need for this year’s tax prep.
- Driver’s License or Other Official Government ID
- Social Security Card or Social Security Number
- You will need one for your spouse and one for each dependent.
- Bank Account Number and Routing Number
- If you plan on receiving your refund via direct deposit.
- Copies of Your Past Two Tax Returns
- While optional, having your past two returns on hand can provide an invaluable reference in case you become confused.
Income Information (Choose All That Apply)
- W-2 Forms
- This reports income from labor performed as an on-the-payroll employee. You may also need one for your spouse.
- 1099-NEC Forms
- 1099-NEC reports “non-employee compensation” - that is income from independent contract work or income earned in your Schedule C sole proprietorship.
- 1099-MISC Forms
- 1099-MISC reports income from rents, royalties, and other miscellaneous income.
- 1099-C Forms
- 1099-C reports a cancelled or forgiven debt of at least $600.
- 1099-G Forms
- 1099-G reports unemployment income alongside state or local tax refunds, credits, or offsets.
- 1099-R Forms
- 1099-R reports income from profit sharing plans, IRAs, pensions, insurance, and related sources.
- 1099-S Forms
- 1099-S reports any income from selling property such as real estate.
- 1099-INT, -DIV, -B, or K-1s
- These report income from investments or interest.
- SSA 1099
- SSA 1099 reports any Social Security benefits you may have received.
- Additional Income
- Additional income can include alimony and business income. Business income is typically reported using a Profit and Loss Statement.
- Miscellaneous Income
- This can include gambling winnings, scholarships, jury duty stipends, and more.
- W-2 Forms
Before calculating your annual tax bill, the IRS will take the following into account to adjust your pre-tax income.
- Form 1098-E
- Form 1098-E reports the student loan interest paid in the past year.
- Form 1098-T
- Instead of student loan interest, Form 1098-T reports higher education tuition paid in the past year.
- IRA Contributions
- Medical Savings Account (MSA) Contributions
- Green Energy Home Improvements
- The IRS may use receipts for qualifying home improvements, such as installing solar panels or energy-conserving windowpanes, to adjust your pre-tax income downwards, potentially lowering your tax liability or increasing your refund.
- Records of Self-Employment Health Insurance Payment
- Self-Employed Pension Plans
- Including, but not limited to, Keogh, SEP, and SIMPLE.
- Alimony Paid
- Form 1098-E
The key to a successful tax prep process is optimizing your deduction process to help get the best refund possible. To make this step a breeze, assemble documentation for the following deductions:
- Child Care
- Make sure you have your provider’s name, address, tax ID, and the annual expense amount.
- Charitable Donations
- Charitable contributions made to qualified organizations may help lower your tax bill. To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more you must have a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization.
- Medical and Dental Expenses
- Ensure that you have original receipts or invoices.
- Higher Education Costs
- Keep Form 1098-T handy alongside an itemized list of your education expenses.
- Child Care
Much like deductions, claiming credits is a necessary step in the tax prep process.
- Child Tax Credit
- One of the most talked-about aspects of this past tax season, the Child Tax Credit, is making a return at 2020 levels. That means potential payout per child reduced from $3,600 to $2,000.
- Retirement Savings Credits
- If you made contributions to a 401(k) or IRA, you might be able to claim a tax credit known as the Saver’s Credit. Eligible taxpayers earn under $34,000 per year as a single filer or $68,000 as a married joint filer.
- Child Tax Credit
Additional Tax Information You May Need On Hand
- Estimated Tax Payments (if self-employed)
- Foreign Bank Account Information
- This can include the account’s nation of origin, the bank’s name, your account number, and your account’s peak value during the year.
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Connect with a Tax Expert
When preparing for the tax season, it’s easy to lose yourself in the sea of forms and documents. If you find that tax prep gives you TAXiety, don’t hesitate — schedule an appointment with your local Liberty Tax expert.