The tax season is officially here. It’s time to get organized. Don’t put things off until the last second in April! With just over two months until the filing deadline (April 15th), we wante d to provide you with a basic checklist of things to track down. Whether you meet with a tax professional or prepare your taxes yourself, proper planning helps the process go smoother and may reduce the risk of costly errors. Here is our to-do list to help with the upcoming tax season.
To-Do #1: Gather All of Your Tax Season Forms
Staying organized during tax time is crucial. You’ve probably been getting tax documents in the mail, or via email, since the beginning of the year. Now’s the time to track them down. Take a few minutes to look over the documents as well to see if everything looks correct. Spelling, misprints, and wrong numbers could derail your smooth tax return filing process.
Some of the forms you will need to watch out for include:
- W-2s from your job
- SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits
- 1099s for additional income, interest, gains and losses
- 1095-A for government marketplace health coverage
- 1098s for reporting interest and tuition payments
- W-2Gs for any gambling winnings
- Schedule K-1s for company ownership
To-Do #2: Round-Up Your Receipts
This is especially important for business owners. For business owners or those planning to itemize deductions, having records of your expenses is the first step towards being able to write off those expenses.
Gather all the receipts for business expenses, medical expenses and other expenses that can be listed on your Schedule A or Schedule C. Receipts can be physical receipts or bank and credit card statements that show payments for these items.
To-Do #3: Acquire Records of All Charitable Contributions
Did you make any charitable contributions this year? If the answer is no, skip ahead to #4, but if the answer is yes – listen up!
These charitable donations can provide you with a charitable contribution write-off. Traditionally, this could only be done if you chose to itemize your deduction. However, as of the CARES Act, filers who choose a standard deduction may be able eligible to write-off up to $300 in charitable contributions.
Other donation types will still require an itemized deduction and documentation. And most organizations, from churches to fundraisers, can provide a record of your tax-deductible contributions.
To-Do #4: Create a List of All Personal Information
You might know your personal information by heart, but the person preparing your taxes most likely does not. To make things easier for them, organize the pertinent personal information ahead of time. Addresses, Social Security numbers, birthdays, etc. – all of these can be helpful. Staying organized will keep everyone’s stress level lower, and trust us – that’s a good thing!
To-Do #5: Get a Copy of Last Year’s Tax Return
The purpose of this to-do list is to make your life easier. Having last year’s return handy is another way to make your life easier when filing your taxes.
If you are using the same preparer as the previous year, they should have a copy of your tax return. If not, find your old copy and have it ready with your other tax items. Being able to reference your previous return can help you see what you filed last year, so you don’t overlook something this year.
To-Do #6: Determine How You Will Spend Your Refund
Obviously, if you end up owing money – this does not apply to you! However, if you do expect to get money back in a refund, have a plan for how you’d like to spend it. Not having something in mind is a good way to waste your refund.
You can direct that money into a checking or savings account, save it for retirement, use it to pay down debt, or responsibly treat yourself to something nice.
Don’t let tax preparation leave you feeling overwhelmed. Enjoy less stress and a smoother process by preparing everything you need for filing this tax season. If you need help organizing your financial information to file your taxes this year, we would be happy to give you a hand. Click here to schedule an initial call with one of our team members. There is no cost or obligation!