What Should You Have To File Your Taxes
Here’s the ultimate Tax checklist. I hate doing taxes and with all the new laws I never know what I can claim.
1. For Single Filers
If you’re single and employed by someone else, your tax return will be relatively easy to prepare. Here’s what you’ll need and why:
• Last year’s tax return: If you use tax preparation software, it will ask you for much of the information contained on last year’s return.
• Social Security number: Your SSN is a unique identifier that theoretically ensures that the government won’t confuse you with someone else who shares your name. You must include it on your tax return. If you don’t have yours memorized, check your records and make sure you enter it with 100% accuracy. Missing or incorrect SSNs are one of the most common tax mistakes, yet one of the easiest mistakes to avoid. Don’t risk delaying your refund or tempt the IRS into sending you scary letters.
• Form W2: This is the form your employer gives you that lists your wages/salary, federal and state tax withholding, tips and earned income credit. If you haven’t received it, you may be able to retrieve it electronically if you work for a large company. If your employer makes a mistake when it issues your W2 form, it will issue a corrected version called a W2-C, and you will then need both forms. The W2 gives you the numbers you need to report your wages, salaries, and tips (Line 7), as well as federal income tax withheld. (Line 61).
• Forms 1099 MISC: If you earned self-employment income (non-employee compensation), rents, royalties or other types of income the IRS considers to be “miscellaneous,” you will receive this form in the mail. (If your self-employment income exceeds $400, you’ll also need to file Schedule SE, which we’ll cover in the last section of this article.)
• Forms 1099-INT and 1099-DIV: These forms are used to report any interest and dividend income you earn. For example, if you have a certificate of deposit that earned interest, that income would be reported on form 1099-INT. Similarly, if you own any stocks that paid dividends and they aren’t in your retirement account, Form 1099-DIV will report that income. Enter these numbers on Lines 8a, 8b, 9a and 9b of Form 1040.
Standard or Itemized?
Decide whether to take the standard or itemized deduction. If you’re going to itemize, you will need records for all deductions you want to claim on Schedule A. These include medical and dental expenses, state income taxes, home mortgage interest, real estate taxes, private mortgage insurance, donations, motor vehicle registration tax, points paid on a mortgage or refinance, residential energy credits and the alternative motor vehicle credit.
Finally, some unlucky individuals may be subject to the alternative minimum tax.