About this time of year, we begin to collect all the information we will need to properly file our income tax returns. Since it’s been a year, I have listed below some of the items you will want to look for.
Your employer is required to send you your W2 forms by Jan. 31. You should receive a Form 1099-R if you are receiving a pension or withdrew from an IRA.
You will need to locate the 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms for each account that pays interest or dividends. Even tax-exempt interest must be listed on the return.
Sales of stocks, bonds or mutual funds are listed on Form 1099-B. You will need to obtain a cost-basis statement for the mutual funds you sold. Most companies are now furnishing cost-basis statements. Your financial planner should be able to help you with this.
Form 1098 reports the interest you paid on your mortgage last year. If you refinanced last year you will want to get the Form 1098 or settlement statement showing the points you paid.
If you had a loan modified, a debt canceled or lost property in a short sale or foreclosure, contact your tax preparer now in order to find out all the information he/she will need to properly report the transaction. Look for IRS Forms 1099-A and 1099-C.
For estimated tax payments you made, you will need to know the amounts paid and the days the payments were made.
If you sold property, you will need the settlement plus a record of the improvements made to the property over time.
If you had childcare expenses, your preparer will need to know the name, address, telephone number and tax identification number of the provider, in addition to the amount paid.
Student loan payments are reported on Form 1098-E and can be used to lower your taxes.
IRS Form 1098-T lists college tuition paid. This can be used to generate a valuable tax credit.
You will want to assemble all the necessary records of your charitable contributions, both cash/check and non-cash (stuff). If your non-cash contributions total over $500, you will need the date contributed, items donated, the receiving organization, its address, the value of the items and how you determined it. If a single gift is over $250 you should have a receipt from the charity for it.
If you are receiving Social Security you will need the Form 1099-SSA which lists your gross benefits before deductions.
If deducting business mileage, you will want to make sure your log showing dates, miles driven and business purpose is in order. This expense is a frequent audit target.
When you make a business purchase of equipment, furniture or vehicle for your business use, you need to list these items separately and show the date bought.
January is the best time to get started on the sometimes demanding task of assembling your records. It is a good time to contact your tax preparer to ask questions regarding the records and documentation required to ensure you receive all the deductions you are entitled to.