Handy tax preparation checklist

tax preparation checklist

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Credit Sesame’s handy tax preparation checklist so you are ready for Mon Apr 15, tax day 2024.

Filing your taxes doesn’t have to be a headache. Just make sure have everything you need for a smooth and potentially credit-score-boosting tax season 2024.

Gather information

  1. Personal information
    • Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents. Include your Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) if applicable.
  2. Income documents
    • Collect W-2 forms from all employers.
    • Gather 1099 forms for additional income sources (freelance work, dividends, etc.).
    • Include Social Security income statements (SSA-1098) if applicable.
    • Document any other income you received.
  3. Deduction and credit proof:
    • Organize receipts and documentation for eligible expenses (medical bills, education costs, mortgage interest).
    • Keep records of charitable contributions and paperwork for tax credits (child tax credit, education credits).
  4. Health insurance info:
    • Locate Form 1095-A, 1095-B, or 1095-C (proof of health insurance).
    • Gather any relevant Affordable Care Act (ACA) documentation.
  5. Retirement savings:
    • Find contribution statements for IRAs or 401(k)s.
    • Include records of any early withdrawals or contributions.
  6. Educational expenses:
    • Track down Form 1098-T for tuition expenses.
    • Document records of any student loan interest paid.
  7. Homeownership documents:
    • Grab your mortgage interest statement (Form 1098) and property tax records.
  8. Business income and expenses:
    • If you own a business, gather records of income and expenses along with related receipts and documentation.
  9. State-specific requirements:
    • Check if your state requires any specific forms or documentation.
  10. Additional deductions and credits:
    • Childcare expenses
    • Alimony payments
    • Other income sources
    • Charitable non-cash contributions
    • Job-related expenses
    • Energy-efficient home improvements
    • Form 1099-NEC for freelancers
    • Proof of educational expenses
    • HSA and FSA contributions
    • Gambling losses
    • Home office expenses

Plan your tax preparation

  1. Previous year’s return. Use your prior year’s tax return as a reference to ensure you don’t miss any recurring deductions or credits.
  2. Organize your records. Sort and categorize all your documents to make filing a breeze.
  3. Choose your filing method.  Decide whether to file online using tax software, hire a tax professional, or submit a paper return.
  4. Stay informed.  Keep yourself updated on any changes in tax laws that might affect your filing.

Manage your time

  1. Set a filing deadline. Plan to file your taxes before the deadline (April 15, 2024).
  2. Consider extensions.  If needed, explore filing an extension, but be aware of potential penalties and interest.

Make sure yo have the following to hand

  1. Bank account details.  Have your bank account and routing number handy to expedite refunds or payments.
  2. Identification protection PIN (IP PIN).  Keep your IP PIN from the IRS with your documents if you’ve received one due to identity theft concerns.
  3. Mileage log.  Maintain a detailed mileage log if you use your car for business purposes (potential deduction).
  4. Moving expenses.  Gather documentation for eligible moving expenses if applicable.
  5. Investment statements. Include records of investment income and expenses (brokerage statements, capital gains/losses).
  6. Estimated tax payments.  Keep copies of receipts if you make estimated tax payments throughout the year.

Remember to adapt the checklist based on your specific financial situation and any unique circumstances. Consulting with a tax professional can provide personalized guidance and ensure you’re taking advantage of all available deductions and credits.

Responsible tax filing and planning aren’t just about following regulations. By filing on time, avoiding tax debt, and ensuring accuracy, you demonstrate financial responsibility, a factor considered in credit scoring models. This can significantly improve your credit score, making it easier to secure loans, rent apartments, and obtain favorable interest rates.

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Disclaimer: The article and information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Katrina Boydon
Katrina Boydon has been consulting in web content and media operations for over 20 years. When she’s not strategising, devising topics, editing or managing distribution, she likes to put fingers to keyboard and create original articles on a range of topics.

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