Updated for the 2012 tax year.
If you do your taxes or someone does them for you, here’s a tax preparation checklist to help organize everything and finish your tax return quickly.
Let’s face it, tax season is never a fun time when you have to dig up old documents that have been piled away for a year. The goal is to simplify things and save you time.
So, attach this list to your tax file and collect any important tax documents, receipts, and records as you get them. Having everything in one place, will make things easier.
This handy checklist will be updated each tax year, so you can save as much money as possible (or get a bigger refund). When you finally sit down with your accountant or online tax software the process will be quick and painless.
Cross off any categories that don’t apply to you, focus on the ones that do and collect that information throughout the year. Save this list, bookmark it or print it out and check things off as you go along.
Tax Preparation Checklist
Using the wrong information is the biggest mistake made every year. Make sure to check and double-check these.
- Social Security Number for you, your spouse and dependents
- Date of birth for you, spouse and dependents
- Copy of last year’s tax return
- Your Electronic Filing PIN used on last year’s tax return
- Bank account and routing number to direct deposit your refund
- Wages, Salary, Tips (W-2 Forms)
- Unemployment (1099-G)
- Interest – savings account, money market account, mutual funds, etc (1099-INT)
- Dividends – stocks or mutual funds (1099-DIV)
- Capital Gains (Loss) – sale of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, collectibles, etc (1099-B or broker statements)
- Capital Loss Carryover – (last year’s Schedule D – Capital Gains and Losses)
- Undistributed Capital Gains – RIC’s or REITs (Form 2439)
- Social Security benefits (SSC-1099)
- IRA, 401k, 403b, or pension distribution (1099-R)
- 2010 Roth IRA Conversion – if you converted an IRA, pension, 401k, 403b to a Roth IRA in 2010 and chose to split the amount between 2011 and 2012 tax returns, the 2012 taxes are due (Form 8606 of 2010 tax return)
- 2012 Roth IRA Conversion – if you converted an IRA, pension, 401k, 403b to a Roth IRA in 2012 taxes are due on the converted amount
- Rental income/expense statement
- Health Savings Accounts (1099-SA)
- Gambling winnings
- Alimony income
- Jury Duty
- Business income/sale
- Farm income
- Partnerships, S Corps, Estates and Trusts (K-1)
- State and local tax refund (1099-G)
Deductions And Credits
There are several deductions and credits available to help lower your taxes. This includes eligible expenses for itemized deductions. Keep all related documents to get the full credit or deduction.
- Mortgage Interest and points you paid (Form 1098)
- Property Taxes (real estate tax bill)
- Mortgage Insurance (Form 1098)
- Moving Expenses
- Energy-efficient improvements – receipts of Energy Star approved products i.e. windows, doors, insulation, appliances
- Cash donations (receipt from the charity)
- Item donations – clothes, cars, household items (receipt from the charity and/or Form 8283)
- Student Loan Interest Paid – deduct up to $2,500
- Education Expenses – there are several education credits and deductions for those pursuing post high school educations (receipts for tuition, books and fees)
- Child and dependent care costs - includes day care, nursery school, day camps (care provider’s name, address, tax ID or Social Security number and amount paid)
- Adoption expenses – Social Security number of child, any legal, medical and travel expenses
- Medical and dental expenses – includes treatment, doctor visits, drugs (receipts for all medical expenses)
- Medical Insurance premiums
- Health Savings Account contributions
- Personal Property Tax – includes Vehicle Registration fees
- Sales Tax – best for big-ticket items like a boat, car, home renovation (receipt of all items)
- Estimated Taxes – if you make estimated tax payments (Form 1040-ES)
- Foreign Taxes (statement showing foreign taxes paid)
- Traditional and Roth IRA contributions – check the 2012 IRA contribution and deduction limits
- 401k, 403b and pension contributions – check the 2012 401k contribution limits
- Keogh, SEP, Simple 401k self-employment plan contributions
- Investment expenses – includes safe deposit box, investment advisor, custodial fees, and transaction costs
- Job related expenses – (travel costs, uniforms, union dues, job hunting costs, education)
- Teacher/Educator expenses – teachers grades K-12 can deduct non-reimbursed supplies for the classroom (receipt for all items)
- Tax preparation fees – includes cost of accountants, tax software and postage
- Casualty and theft – stolen or damaged property from accident, storm, fire, flood, etc. (police report, insurance claim, documents showing fair market value of item)
- Alimony payments
- Legal fees – related to employment, business or taxable income (legal bills)
Once your tax return is finished, you still need to keep your tax records in a safe place. Audits are just one reason, loans and insurance applications often ask for prior year income history. You can easily make a digital copy of everything and save it to a backup hard drive or online storage for safe keeping.