What Do I Need to Bring to My Tax Appointment?

For many adults, sitting down to file taxes brings back all the anxiety of taking a middle-school algebra exam, but with much higher stakes. The good news is that someone can help you with this test: your tax preparer. Even better, you can, and should, consult your notes: your financial documents and tax statements. But gathering the necessary paperwork to take to your tax preparer can itself be overwhelming if you don’t know what you need. Well, how do you know what tax documents to bring to a tax appointment?

In this blog post, we will discuss both the documents you need, and the best ways to store and organize them to help your tax preparer with your tax preparation.

Preparing for Your Tax Appointment

Let’s talk about what your tax preparer will need to do their job. It’s good to have a checklist of essential information and tax documents at hand. Being able to check items off your list will give you confidence that you are ready for your tax appointment. In general, you will need the information below (though not all items will apply to your particular situation).

Basic Personal Information

  • Name, dates of birth, and Social Security Number or tax ID number for you, spouse, and dependents
  • Address
  • Identity protection PIN (if the IRS issued one to you, your spouse, or your dependent)
  • IRS Notice 1444 or other records showing the amount of your economic impact (stimulus) payment, if you received one.
  • Bank account number and routing number, if you would like to receive your refund by direct deposit

Additional Dependent Information

  • Income of any dependents, including adult dependents, residing with you
  • Childcare expenses if applicable, including the tax ID number for the childcare provider
  • IRS Form 8332 (if you are the non-custodial parent of a child, and the custodial parent is allowing you to claim the child on your tax return. This form is filled out and signed by the custodial parent.)

Employment Income Information

Much of this information may not apply to you, but be sure to give your tax preparer all the tax documents that are applicable to your situation. Statements of income from employment and other sources should be mailed to you with a postmark no later than January 31 of the year in which you are filing your taxes. You may be able to download some statements online even earlier.

  • Form W-2 for employees
  • Form 1099-G for unemployment payments
  • Forms 1099 and Schedule K-1 for self-employed. If you have income not reported on Form 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC, you should also provide records of that income.
  • If self-employed, depreciation information for business-use assets (cost of asset, date placed in service, etc.)
  • Information regarding home office if self-employed
  • If self employed, record of estimated tax payments made (Form 1040-ES)

Other Income Information

  • Rental income, including income and expense records, information on depreciation
  • Retirement income information, including pension, IRA, and annuity income (Form 1099-R); post-tax contributions to an IRA; and Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) income
  • Investment and dividend income
  • Income from sales of stock
  • Expenses related to investments
  • Records of cryptocurrency transactions
  • Records of your cost basis in investment property (this may be reported on a 1099-B)
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and long-term care reimbursements
  • Records of estimated tax payments made (Form 1040-ES)
  • Gambling income or losses
  • Income related to prizes or awards
  • Income and expenses from hobbies
  • Trust income
  • Royalty Income
  • State tax refund

Of course, income is only half the story. You will also want to provide documentation to support deductions from income, especially if you might be able to benefit from itemizing deductions.

Deductions

  • Home ownership-related deduction information, such as mortgage interest statements or Form 1098; records of real estate tax; records and receipts for energy-efficient home improvements
  • Charitable donations, including cash and non-cash charitable donations and record of miles driven for a charitable purpose
  • Medical expenses, including amounts paid for healthcare and insurance and record of miles driven to receive medical care
  • Health insurance (Form 1095-A) if your health insurance was through an Affordable Care Act Exchange
  • Childcare expenses, including expenses paid through a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA)
  • Educational expenses, including receipts and documentation of student loan interest
  • State and local taxes
  • Retirement savings, including 5498 series forms showing HSA and IRA contributions
  • Classroom expenses for K-12 educators
  • Documentation of property losses in a federally-declared disaster

Organizing Your Tax Documents for Your Preparer

As with most things, organizing as you go along makes life easier when it comes to preparing for your tax appointment. Theoretically, you could throw all of your receipts in a shoebox and give it to your tax preparer, but it will benefit everyone if you can create at least rough categories for the documents you are providing.

For only a few dollars, you can pick up a divided accordion file at an office supply store. Label the sections with tabs like “Income from Work,” “Other Income,” “Business Expenses,” ”Charitable Donations,” “Childcare,” “Healthcare,” etc. If you have a place prepared for them, it will be much easier to store receipts and statements when you get them. That way you won’t have to scramble to look for them later.

Many people are most comfortable with physical receipts and statements, and that’s fine. But there are also higher-tech options available. A simple spreadsheet can help you keep track of income and expenses. There are also numerous online options to track expenses, too. Some programs or apps let you download an annual report that you can give to your tax preparer. Depending on your situation, you may find a receipt scanner helpful.

Gudorf Tax Group offers a tax organizer to help new clients prepare for and get the most out of their tax appointment. Existing clients should contact the office for a “pro forma” tax organizer that includes their prior year information and carryover data. If you have been asking yourself “What should I bring to my tax appointment?” this blog post and those organizers should provide the answer.

The Bottom Line

The best way to organize information for your tax preparer is the method that works for you and that you will actually use. If you have further questions about tax preparation and tax documents, we invite you to schedule an appointment today with the accounting and tax preparation professionals at Gudorf Tax Group.

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