Tax Prep Checklist

What to Bring To Do Your Taxes?
Here is a list of things that you should bring when you come to your taxes with a professional tax prepares, or if you are attempting to do the job yourself. Some documents listed below may or may not apply to you, depending on your personal tax situation. This list includes anything you might need, to ensure that you are at maximum readiness for your tax preparation appointment. Click on the headings below to reveal detailed lists.
Basic Information:
  • Copy of last year’s tax return
  • Names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for taxpayer(s)
  • Names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for any dependents or possible dependents (check with your tax professional to determine if a dependent qualifies)
Income:
  • W-2s from any jobs (may be possible to download from Internet, ask employer)
  • 1099-INT from any interest income (CDs, savings account, municipal bonds); note if you don’t have the actual 1099-INT we should be able to get the figure online in most cases
  • 1099-DIV for any dividend income, for instance from mutual fund holdings
  • 1099-G from state tax refund from last year (only if used itemized deductions previous year)
  • 1099-MISC from any independent contracting work
  • Figure to report for any cash earnings related to self-employment
  • Profit and Loss statement for any business income (can be simple list of total income received for year, and then total of each category of expense related to business); if you do not have a P & L for your business, we can help you create one on Schedule C.
  • 1099-S if any real estate property sales
  • 1099-B if any stock sales
  • 1099-R for any retirement income, including rollover of retirement funds or early withdrawal
  • Profit and Loss statement for any rental real estate income; can be simple total income received and then each category of expense totaled for the year
  • Schedule K-1 for any interests in partnerships, S-corporations, trusts, or estates
  • Form 1099-G for any unemployment received (or if you are *sure* of the amount, just bring the amount received number which *may* be on your last check stub)
  • 1099-C for any canceled debt amount, such as settled credit card debt or home loan modification where the principal amount of the loan was reduced
  • Amount of any other income received such as alimony, lottery winnings, or strike pay
Deductions:
  • Amount of educator expenses such as classroom supplies (for teacher)
  • Amount of contributions to Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • Amount of any moving expenses (if move is related to work)
  • Amount of any alimony paid
  • Amount of contribution to any retirement plan such as SEP or IRA
  • Amount of any student loan interest paid (can be downloaded from student loan lender’s website in most cases)
  • If using standard deduction, this is all you need to bring for the deductions.
Schedule A - Itemized Deductions:
If using Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, for instance a homeowner with mortgage interest and property taxes, here are other things that you should bring to do your Schedule A: Medical and Dental Expenses (only bring if the total expense is more than 7.5 percent of your Adjusted Gross Income, i.e. only if the medical and dental expense is significant):

  • Prescription drugs
  • Doctor bills
  • Dentist bills
  • Health insurance premiums (only if included in gross wages)
  • Long-term care insurance premiums
  • Medical mileage to and from doctor / dentist
  • Eyeglasses
  • Contact lenses
  • Cost of smoking cessation program
  • Cost of weight loss program if prescribed by doctor, e.g. lapband surgery
  • Out-of-pocket cost while visiting doctor or dentist
  • Cannot take deduction for any expense reimbursed by insurance

Taxes You Paid:

  • State income tax (such as withholdings paid out of paycheck during the year)
  • State Disability Insurance tax (paid out of paycheck during year)
  • Sales Tax, as calculated using IRS sales tax tables plus any sales tax paid on the purchase of an airplane, boat, or vehicle. BUT the catch here is that taxpayer must choose to EITHER deduct State and Local income tax, OR sales tax. You cannot deduct both, you must choose one: either state and local income tax, or sales tax. Often, if taxpayer makes a large purchase such as a new vehicle, it will be more advantageous to deduct sales tax, so make sure to ask if new car purchased in 2011.
  • Part of the car registration fee in California is a personal property tax and is deductible on Schedule A. However, the part of the cost that is DMV fees is not deductible in this area.

Interest You Paid:

  • Mortgage interest on up to $1,000,000 of purchase cost loan for your personal home.
  • Mortgage interest on up to $1,000,000 of purchase cost loan for your secondary home.
  • Home equity loan interest on up to $100,000 of home equity loan for your personal home.
  • Home equity loan interest on up to $100,000 of home equity loan for your secondary home.
  • “Points” or “Loan Origination Fees” related to your personal home or your secondary home. Points on purchase can be deducted entirely in year paid, but points paid to refinance must be prorated over the life of the loan.
  • Mortgage insurance (applies to most FHA loans).
  • Investment interest. However, investment interest is deductible only to the extent of your investment income (i.e. if you have $100 investment income for the year, you can only deduct up to $100 of investment interest).

Gifts to Charity:

  • Gifts made by cash or check to IRS-designated charity (taxpayer must have proof of payment)
  • Non-cash gifts to IRS-designated charity, such as giving furniture to Salvation Army
  • If non-cash gifts are $500 or more for the year, must fill out Form 8283 giving more information about the non-cash donations that were made.
  • Mileage related to charitable activities
  • Out-of-pocket costs related to charitable activities

Casualty and Theft Losses:

  • Fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, volcano, or somebody steals your car.
  • These and other likewise disastrous events can be deductible on Schedule A, but only when the total casualty or theft exceeds 10 percent of the taxpayer’s Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
  • Form 4684 must be included to describe casualty or theft loss.
  • Insurance reimbursements must be removed and cannot be counted as part of deductible casualty or loss.

Job Expenses: (Not deductible if reimbursed by employer) Visit our Deductions By Job Type Page to find specific deductions based on the type of job you may have.

  • Job travel
  • Union dues
  • Job education
  • Tools
  • Supplies
  • Uniforms and cleaning of uniforms
  • Professional License
  • Job-hunting expense
  • Work-related telephone (business percentage only)
  • Home office expense (only for qualified home office)
  • Books / manuals used at work
  • Safety equipment
  • Employment agency fees (must be job search related to same profession, not new profession)
  • Work-related mileage
  • Visit our Tax Deductions by job type page

Certain Miscellaneous Deductions:

  • Financial consultation
  • IRA or 401K custodial fee
  • Tax preparation fee
  • Safe deposit box (for example, safe where tax documents are kept)
  • Legal fees related to income or assets of the taxpayer
  • Hobby losses
  • Investment books and publications

Other Miscellaneous Deductions:

  • Gambling losses (only to the extent of gambling winnings being reported for the year)
Credits:
  • 1098-T from school if you paid tuition expense or paid for books and supplies; if school has not issued Form 1098-T, can use your own records of expenses paid
  • Manufacturer’s certification for any energy-saving improvements to your home (such as solar heating systems or certain energy-efficient HVAC systems)
  • Name, address, phone number, and Employer Identification Number (EIN) for any daycare expense paid; if paid to a person without an EIN required to include person’s Social Security Number in order to claim the Child and Dependent Care Expenses Credit
  • Purchase agreement for any alternative motor vehicle purchased, such as electrical car
  • Amount paid for any Estimated Tax Payments (Prepayments of tax made on Form 1040-ES)
Other items:
  • Bank routing number and account number for direct deposit of your refund
  • Taxpayer signature (and spouse’s signature if filing a joint return)
  • Picture ID and Social Security Cards of dependents if you are having your tax preparation fee taken out of your refund (“Bank Product”)

Links

Tax Resource Links
New Jersey Department of Taxation and Finance
Official IRS Website
IRS Youtube Videos
New York Department of Taxation and Finance

Tax Forms

Important Documents for Tax Season

Tax Form W-2

Part of the “W series” of tax forms, IRS Form W-2 is a six-part federal Wage and Tax Statement. It reports the wages earned by employees and the taxes that were withheld from their paychecks. It also reports Social Security tax, a.k.a. the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax, to the Social Security Administration. The FICA tax has two components ― the Social Security portion and the Medicare portion ― which are separately reported on Tax Form W-2. Tax Form W-2 is the responsibility of the employer. Employers are required to complete a W-2 Form for each of their employees, and they must deliver it to each employee by January 31st of the calendar year. Employers must then file the W-2 Forms with the Social Security Administration by the last day of February (if filing by paper mail) or the last day of March (if filing electronically). W-2 Tax Forms will report all the wages and taxes of the employees of that business/company for the prior calendar year.

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Tax Form W-4

The purpose of Tax Form W-4 is simple ― it is used by your employer to withhold the proper amount of federal income tax from your paycheck. Once you fill out Form W-4 and give it to your employer, they will fill in their sections and finish the process from there. The IRS recommends that employees submit a new W-4 tax form each year, or any time their personal or financial situation changes. Of course, this is required upon being hired. No matter if you are starting a new job or just want to change your withholding allowances, you need to become familiar with Tax Form W-4. Every employee must fill out this tax form and submit it to their employer. This way, they are able to withhold the proper amount of taxes from each paycheck.

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Tax Form 1040

IRS Tax Form 1040 is the standard federal income tax form used to report an individual’s gross income (e.g., money, goods, property, and services). It is also known as “the long form” because it is more extensive than the shorter 1040A and 1040EZ Tax Forms. Also unlike the other tax forms, IRS Form 1040 allows taxpayers to claim numerous expenses and tax credits, itemize deductions, and adjust income. There are many different ways to obtain an IRS 1040 Tax Form. The fastest and most convenient option is to download the tax form on your computer. Most post offices and local libraries carry forms around tax time, and forms can also be picked up from a tax center or an IRS office. In addition, you may request a tax form to be sent to you by U.S. Mail. IRS Tax Form 1040, with payment, is due by April 15th. A six-month tax extension may be granted (with IRS Tax Form 4868) for late filing, but payments must still be made by April 15th. You may file Form 1040 by paper mail, by using IRS e-file, or through an approved tax preparer. Filing taxes online is generally safer, faster, and easier ― and you will get your tax refund much sooner if you choose the Direct Deposit option. While there are several tax forms to choose from when filing your federal income taxes, a safe bet is to use IRS Form 1040 if you are unsure whether or not you qualify for the 1040A or 1040EZ.

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Tax Form 1040A

IRS Tax Form 1040A is a simplified federal income tax form used to report an individual’s income and calculate their taxes. It is also known as “the short form” because it is a two-page form that is less complex than IRS Tax Form 1040. Tax Form 1040A covers more than Form 1040EZ, and it allows taxpayers to report common types of income, credits, and deductions. If you qualify to use Form 1040A, it will take you less time to prepare (than Form 1040) and it will likely be processed faster by the IRS. The 1040A Form is available to taxpayers of any age and any filing status, and it is due by April 15th. While most qualify to use this form, it is not as extensive as IRS Tax Form 1040, so it’s a good idea to look over what Form 1040 offers first.

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Tax Form 1040-EZ

IRS Tax Form 1040EZ is the shortest federal income tax form. It is designed for taxpayers whose filing status is “single” or “married filing jointly” with no dependents. The 1040EZ is less complex than Tax Form 1040 and Tax Form 1040A, so it generally takes less time to fill out and process. However, it may be more beneficial to use Form 1040 or Form 1040A, since those forms allow taxpayers to claim “head of household” status (which typically results in a lower tax than filing as “single”), dependents, and various credits and adjustments to income.

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Tax Form 1040-NR

Tax Form 1040NR is also known as U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return. This tax form is similar to the regular 1040 form used by United States citizens. Form 1040NR must be filed if you were a nonresident alien during the past tax year who engaged in business in the US. You are required to file even if you have no income from the business, or your income is exempt from tax under a treaty with your country. You must also use this form if you were a nonresident alien who did not engage in US business, but received income from US sources that are reportable on Schedule NEC. There are three types of income that you may need to include on Tax Form 1040NR. They include income connected with US business (taxed at the same rate as US citizens), income not connected with US business (the rate is 30 percent, unless there is a treaty between the US and your country that allows you to pay a lower rate), and income which is exempt from US tax. United States citizens never have to file Tax Form 1040NR. But if you are a US nonresident alien, this is a tax form that you want to become familiar with.

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Tax Form 1040X

IRS Tax Form 1040X is the federal Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. It is designed for taxpayers who need to correct mistakes made on Tax Form 1040, Tax Form 1040A, Tax Form 1040EZ, Tax Form 1040EZ-T, Tax Form 1040NR, or Tax Form 1040NR-EZ. You must file an amendment if you need to do any of the following:

  • Correct your filing status (which could result in a larger refund)
  • Add or remove dependents
  • Report additional income (from a Form W-2, Form 1099, or other income statement)
  • Report additional withholding (from a W-2 or Form 1099)
  • Make changes to your tax deductions (including above-the-line deductions, itemized deductions, or standard deduction)
  • Make changes to your personal exemptions
  • Recalculate your tax credits or claim additional tax credits

You do not need to file IRS Tax Form 1040X if you are only correcting errors in math ― IRS computers automatically check the math and make those corrections for you.

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Tax Form 4868

IRS Tax Form 4868 is the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return. This can be used to extend the filing deadlines for Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR, and Form 1040NR-EZ. If you are not able to file your federal individual income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. To do so, you must file Tax Form 4868 by the original due date for filing your tax return (April 18th for the 2011 tax season). It’s important to note that submitting Form 4868 does not extend the time for payment of tax, which is still owed by the original due date of your return. You will need to give an estimate of your tax due when filing for a tax extension ― and you can pay none, all, or part of your estimated income tax due using a credit card or checking/savings account.

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