For an accountant and the early bird, January signals the start of tax season. We’re busy prepping our client’s books and hoping their doing the same. But not everyone loves tax season like we do; in fact, we know many people dread it. There’s all that paper work to find and put in one place. And don’t forget any receipts or paper work documenting applicable deductions. And it does seem that without fail your accountant will end up calling you to ask questions regarding your paperwork causing you to hunt up additional info and/or wrack your brain to remember the details of a purchase, expense, or contribution.
To keep everyone from having to spend a lot of extra time, we’ve put together a complete guide to preparing your personal taxes. If you follow this list, you’ll have a fairly comprehensive stack of paperwork that will streamline filing your taxes and hopefully help you avoid those phone calls form your accountant. Here’s what you’ll need to provide your CPA or gather together before you file your taxes for 2017:
- Full names and relationship of all family members
- Social security numbers for all family members
- Birth dates for all family members
- Filing Status – Married, Single, Head of Household, etc.
- Full address
- Estimated Payment Information (Dates and amounts of each payment) if applicable
Income Items (as applicable)
- W2s received
- 1099s, 1098s, 1095s received (interest, dividends, capital gains, IRA withdrawals, etc.)
- K1s received
- Unemployment benefit statements
- Social security benefit statements
- Rental property income documentation
- Other Business income
- Tax refunds from the State
- Documentation related to any other income received
Deduction Items (as applicable, make sure to note questions you have and ask your CPA)
- Health insurance status (were you covered all year?)
- Changes in dependents
- IRA/Retirement Contributions
- Mortgage interest
- Charitable contributions (cash, miles drive, other donations, etc.)
- Medical expenses (including health insurance premiums)
- Real estate and other taxes
- Unreimbursed employee expenses (personal expenses paid for business, job search costs, uniforms, etc.)
- Child and dependent care expenses
- Questions about any other deductions
Tip: Spend just a few minutes each day gathering the items listed in each section – General Information, Income Items, and Deduction Items. Store all your papers in a manila folder and keep it handy so that if you run across items you can slip them in and then sort later. Also keep a stack of sticky notes or a pad of paper and pen handy so you can to down questions for your accountant as you think of them. Print off the downloadable checklist below and paperclip it to the front of your folder – check off the items as you find them, so you can see your progress.
Looking for some help on preparing your business taxes for filing? We’ve got a handy checklist for that too – you can find it here.
Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.