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Get Organized Now to Make Tax Time Easier

Get Organized Now to Make Tax Time Easier

It might feel a little early to be thinking about income taxes, but if you put in some time to gather all the paperwork you'll need now, you'll feel less stressed when you work on your tax return or need to give your documents to a tax preparer. Getting started early also gives you the time to get copies of any documents that you may be missing.

What kind of documents do you need? Basically, they fall into five categories:

  • Personal information about you and your dependents
  • 2014 income information
  • Income adjustments
  • Information on deductions (if you itemize) and credits
  • Information about taxes paid in 2014

Some of these documents will start arriving in the mail in January and February, so gather them in a single file as they arrive. If you prefer to keep your information on your computer, scan the paper documents and store them in a file on your desktop. It's still a good idea to keep the paper originals in case something happens to your scanned copies.

What Documents Will You Need?

Use this checklist to make sure you have all the paperwork you need.

  • Personal information:
    • Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and all your dependents, including elderly parents or in-laws you care for. Depending on your immigration status, you may have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number instead of a Social Security number.
  • Income information:
    • W-2s for you and your spouse from each employer you worked for in 2014
    • Form 1099-MISC ,if you or your spouse worked as an independent contractor or freelancer
    • Forms 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B (if you use a broker) for interest on savings and investments
    • Form 1099-G, if you got a state or local tax refund or received unemployment
    • Form 1099s for other income, including gambling winnings, scholarships, Social Security payments, healthcare reimbursements, distributions from retirement accounts
    • Form K-1 for income from partnerships
    • Information about alimony received, rental property income, business or farming income
  • Income adjustments: These expenses can lower your total taxable income so you pay less in taxes. You'll need receipts or other documents showing what you paid for:
    • Alimony
    • Student loan interest (Form 1098-E)
    • IRA contributions
    • Energy credits
    • Medical savings account contributions
    • Self-employed health insurance and pension plan payments
    • Moving expenses
    • Educator expenses
  • Deductions and credits:
    • Form 1098 for mortgage interest paid
    • Form 1098-T for education expenses
    • Receipts for charitable donations (cash and items donated)
    • Receipts for child and adult daycare that list the provider's tax ID number
    • Information about losses from the theft or damage of property
    • Receipts for adoption costs, work expenses and medical and dental expenses
    • Receipts for home office deduction if you're self-employed, including utility bills, home repairs, phone and Internet service
    • Receipt for tax preparation or software
  • Taxes paid: Documents showing:
    • State, local and estimated taxes paid
    • Real estate taxes
    • Vehicle sales and personal property tax paid

When you have all the right forms, receipts and information together when you start your tax return, you'll be able to make sure the information you file is correct and you get the biggest refund you're entitled to.

The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.