The first few months of the year have come and gone, giving us the opportunity to recover from the holidays. Next comes another stressful time of the year. It is a time of gathering documents and counting up your children. It is a time when Mothers who gave birth in early January may wish they had given birth on December 31st instead.
Do you know what time it is? If you’re in the US, I’m talking about tax season. This could either be a painful time or a time to celebrate – depending on whether you owe the IRS money, or if you’re getting a refund.
I got our taxes done last weekend and am happy to be getting a nice refund. Baby H is a good deduction. I also still have myself set as “single” on my tax paperwork with my job, since that withholds slightly more taxes out of each paycheck, but ensures we will not owe anything when we file our tax return. I like to file taxes as early as I can and then move on with other more interesting things that happen in April – like my birthday (which is just before the tax filing deadline).
Will you be filing a simple tax return?
Some people will have a simple time of this as they may rent rather than own a house, may not have dependents, and so will only have their income documents. If all you have is a W-2, then you may be able to e-file a 1040 tax return for free, and quickly to boot.
This was definitely not the case for us, so I wanted to share with you a checklist of the types of documents you will need to organize before you can finish filing your taxes.
Get Organized for Tax Season, a Checklist of Documents you will need
You’ll start with gathering your family details, including the social security number for yourself and your spouse, and your children. You may also need your tax return from previous years. You also want to have your bank information ready for direct deposit of your refund, if you’re getting one.
Income Documents are where you start with your tax return.
- W-2 wages from your employer.
- 1099s for any other miscellaneous income.
- Or unemployment.
- Any blogging income you have tracked or income from any other businesses you run.
- Any stocks sold.
- Did you win anything?
- Receive alimony?
- Do you have a rental property and earn rental income?
Do you own a house? Have student loans? These are deductions on your tax return.
- 1098 from your Mortgage company, including interest paid.
- Student loan lenders will send you a tax form with your interest paid.
Taxes Paid can be deducted as well.
- Did you pay property taxes that weren’t already itemized on your mortgage statement?
- Did you buy any large-ticket items?
Do you have children?
- Children are a huge deduction.
- Childcare expenses can be itemized on your deductions as well.
Other documents or information to organize before sitting down to file your taxes.
- Have you donated to any causes? Bring your receipts.
- Any unreimbursed expenses from work?
- Business expenses including any conferences attended and home office details.
- Did you contribute to an IRA? or a Medical Savings Account?
- Did you move?
As you can see, there are a lot of documents that need to be organized before you can file your tax return. Tax software is very helpful because you are asked a series of questions that helps identify other documents you may have missed. I have filed our taxes in the past using software, and I found it was very easy to follow and complete. This was when we had straightforward documents and we figured we could figure out the rest. I definitely recommend going to a tax preparer if your return is going to be super complicated. The DIY tax route is a great one, however, if you don’t have your own business and don’t have too many items you need to itemize and deduct.
Want more detail? Check out this infographic I found!