Here in the United States, just like most other countries, we have to do our taxes every year. Our Federal taxes are due on April 15th. It is something none of us look forward to. It’s not that we really don’t like paying taxes. Okay, we don’t. Really, most of us don’t. But most of us due our civic duty. But the hardest part for the majority is actually preparing our tax returns. And a diy home goddess will always do her civic duty!
The tax system is complicated. Even for accountants it can be. According to reports, you can give 20 different accountants the exact same information, and you will more than likely have 20 different final numbers. That is because each person may interpret the tax laws differently. That is why tax preparers make the big bucks. So we don’t have to do it ourselves.
But we do have to do the preparation for taxes. We have to gather the information.
I have prepared a basic checklist that the average person would need. Each person’s situation is different, and each tax return will need different items. But this will at least give you a start on what to collect to give to your preparer.
Mind you, this checklist is not complete, by any means. Nor is this checklist a substitute for any tax advice, as I am not a lawyer. It is up to you to contact a lawyer or accountant if you feel you cannot prepare your own tax return accurately and according to the complex laws.
- Form W2 from your jobs
- Form 1099-MISC if you were an independent contractor with your own business, unemployment, gambling winnings, or rental income (plus others)
- Form 1099A or 1099C if you absolved of any debt (yes, you may have to pay tax on a 1099A, and you do on a 1099C)
- Form 1099B if you sold stock
- Form 1099DIV for dividend income
- Form 1099G for state refunds
- Form 1099-INT for interest from a bank
- Form 1099R for retirement funds
- Form 1098T for tuition
- Receipts AND checks for medical expenses (if your medical is pretax from your wages, it should not be on your return)
- Form 1098 for mortgage interest, points and it should show real estate taxes paid as well
- Receipts, cancelled checks, letters from charities (you should be listing thrift store values according to www.irs.gov)
- Form or list from any gambling establishment showing your losses (not allowed to exceed income)
- Receipts AND checks for any business expenses, either for your job or your business (talk to your accountant, because you have to make sure there are no personal expenses included)
- Log books that show mileage, dates, purpose, etc for your job or business (Pub 463 discusses what is allowed and what isn’t)
- Receipts AND checks for any expenses for rental properties
- Dependents Social Security Cards
- Possibly you may need school records to show you supported the dependents
- Receipts AND checks relating to child care expenses
- HUD statements if you sold any real estate during the year (both purchase and sale)
- Form 1040 Instructions
- Form 1040 Instructions for Schedule A (itemized deductions)
- Form 1040 Instructions for Schedule C (self employed business)
- Form 1040 Instructions for Schedule E (supplemental income/loss – rental real estate and such)
Ideas for Places to Get Taxes Prepared:
This is not a complete list. Nor can I recommend any of these companies with any guarantee of perfection or not getting picked for an audit. This is just some places I know people use. Mine are fairly simple, so I just use tax software.
- H&R Block
- Jackson Hewitt
- Liberty Tax Service
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – for those low income individuals
- Www.irs.gov if you have under a certain amount of income
- Check the internet for CPAs, Enrolled Agents, PTIN holders or Program Participants if you have a complicated tax situation (advisable to interview them first). Check this website for more information on different options.
The Wrap Up
As I said, I am not giving anyone any legal or tax advice here. I cannot give any legal or tax advice. I am just giving you the information I use to prepare my own tax return, based on past experience. If you have any questions, PLEASE call a professional! I am just a diy home goddess, just like you!