Tips for Tax Time

IRS 1040 Tax Form Being Filled OutTax Day is Monday, April 18! Haven’t even started filing your taxes? Not to worry. We’ve got you covered. Many tax preparation companies and online software providers have made the filing process very user friendly by walking you through each step. But before you get started, here’s a quick list of questions to ask yourself and things to keep in mind when you’re preparing to file your taxes.

Am I filing the right form?
1040EZ, 1040A, a plain old 1040…it can be hard to tell which one is right for you. Automatically assuming it’s OK to use the same one you did last year can get you into trouble, especially if your circumstances have changed. Click here for a reference guide to help you “File the Right Tax Form”.

Do I have all the Personal Identification info. I need?
We all know we’ll need our Social Security number, but depending on your circumstances you may need others. These may include those of your spouse, children, childcare provider and anyone to whom alimony is paid to name a few. Be sure to keep this in mind when you’re pulling everything together.

Do I have all of my Income Information?
You’ll want to be sure you have this info. handy before you get started. Other forms of income may include:

  • Partnership, S-Corporation, and trust income
  • Pensions and annuity income
  • Unemployment compensation
  • Rental income
  • Social Security benefits
  • State and local tax refunds
  • Earnings for the sale of a home or real estate
  • Investment income (interest and dividends, proceeds from broker transactions and retirement plan distributions)
  • Alimony received
  • Gambling, prizes, and lottery winnings
    Scholarships and fellowships

Depending on which form your filing, you may need to collect some additional information. If you plan to itemize your deductions, make sure your account for everything. Depending on what you are able to deduct, you’ll need to have records for such outgoing expenditures as:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Rent
  • IRA or other retirement plan contributions
  • Miscellaneous investment related expenses
  • Early investment withdrawal penalties
  • Medical/dental bills
  • Moving costs
  • Charitable donations and volunteer expenses
  • Auto loans and leases for vehicles used for business
  • Student loan interest
  • Unreimbursed job-related expenses (travel, uniforms, union dues, education)
  • Job-hunting expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Adoption expenses
  • Tax return preparation expenses

Once you’ve pulled together each necessary item, you’re more than half way done. More often than not, the hardest part of filing taxes is gathering all the necessary information to even get started. Now is a great time to make a mental note of the questions you just asked yourself and commit to keeping good records from this point forward, so next year, preparing to file your taxes will be a piece of cake.

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