One-third of Americans file their taxes last minute. This can prove to be a stressful time, as if you don’t get them in on time, you can be hit with fines and penalties, ending up paying even more.
One reason that people often file their taxes late is that they struggle to pull together the documents they need. They may not be sure what’s actually required until tax time.
Having a tax document checklist can really help keep you on the right path. Here are all of the documents you should have.
Personal and Dependent Information
Although you might not need documents to prove this information on your tax return, you should have it all handy. This includes:
- Full names
- Social security numbers
- Income of dependents
Making sure you have all of this handy can really help, as you might be struggling to pull together numbers at the last minute. Planning in advance really does make a difference.
Your sources of income will very much depend on the job you do.
If you’re an employee at a company, you’ll likely be issued a W-2 at the end of the year. This will contain all of your tax information from this job, and you’re required to submit them with your federal tax returns.
If you’re self-employed or had a freelance source of income, you’ll need 1099-NEC (which used to be 1099-MISC). Clients should be able to provide these for you.
If you did do some work and didn’t receive a 1099-NEC, you’re still required to report that income. Make sure you have a record of all the money that came in, even if you don’t have the forms to prove it.
If you get paid through Paypal, they also issue 1099s at the end of the year and will send them to both you and the IRS.
Deductions and Expenses
If you aren’t taking the standard deduction, you should be armed with proof of the deductions you’re taking (such as healthcare, charity donations, etc.). Although the IRS may not ask for the proof itself, any good tax professional will tell you that you should have it, just in case.
If you work for yourself, you’ll also want a record of expenses. Although you can usually just write these on the form, keep receipts and bank statements just in case the IRS does ask for proof.
The more evidence you have, the better, especially when it comes to being self-employed. Things like the home office deduction can trigger an audit.
Figure Out Your Personal Tax Document Checklist
Although these are the standard documents everyone needs, you should figure out your own tax document checklist and use it every year. You may have losses you need to record and remind yourself of every year, such as jury duty time or federally declared disasters.
As long as you work out what’s right for your situation ahead of time, you’ll be on track. However, the above items are vital to any tax return.
Do you need some professional tax help? Contact us today and we can help you with tax returns and expert financial planning.