How to Prepare for Tax Season

Ready or not, the official start of tax season is January 28th, and W-2 forms and 1099s are due to the IRS by January 31st, so chances are, you will be receiving important tax documents in the mail very soon.  Whether you are super organized and have been keeping a color-coded, indexed file of tax-related documents all year, or you typically find yourself throwing coffee-stained receipts into a pile on April 14th, here is a to-do list for your 2019 tax season.

Prior year returns

Whether you self-prepare or hire a pro, you will need information from your 2017 tax return in order to file your 2018 tax return.  If you are using the same professional as last year, they should have retained a copy of your 2017 tax return.

Receipts for deductible expenses

Fewer people will be itemizing this year, but if you are itemizing or you are unsure, go ahead and gather up records showing proof of the following: property tax payments, child care expenses, medical bills, mileage for medical and business travel, educational expenses and scholarships, and charitable donations.

Business income and expenses

If you are self-employed, gather your records for your business, including credit card and bank statements, asset purchases, and receipts.  The same goes for any rental properties you own.  Be sure to include a log for mileage.  

Information reported to the IRS

These statements should come in the mail in envelopes marked “IMPORTANT TAX DOCUMENTS ENCLOSED.”  They include Form W-2, 1099-Misc, 1099-G, 1099-R, 1099-Div, 1099-B, 1099-S, Schedule K-1s, 1098 (mortgage interest), and brokerage statements.  

Life changes

Be sure to inform your tax preparer of any life changes, such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, separation, and even address change.  Anyone new appearing on your tax return will need a date of birth and a social security number, so this is one time where pets do not count as family (sorry, Chester).  

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