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There's a lot to keep an eye on when filing taxes. Collecting all the required information can sometimes leave you with more questions than answers, especially if your year has been filled with significant events, such as taking out a personal loan, filing for unemployment, or having a child. Each of these comes with documentation that might impact your income, yearly expenses, and taxes. If you're wondering, I bought a house what do I need for taxes? It may be time for some help getting all that paperwork organized before tax deadlines roll around.
This is where the work of a qualified tax preparer comes in. A tax preparer specializes in tax prep work, which means they will prepare your taxes and file your tax returns for you. This process can lead to lower tax payments and fewer mistakes overall - not to mention the peace of mind that comes with a professional helping you to collect and make sense of your tax documents.
When meeting with a tax preparer, you'll be asked to provide all the necessary paperwork. What to bring to a tax appointment may vary, depending on your circumstances (such as whether you're filing as an individual or a business). But generally, you can expect your preparer to need the following documentation.
It may seem obvious, but personal information is key to getting started. Your preparer will need proper identification documents for you and anyone on your return, such as a spouse or any listed dependents. Expect to bring documentation such as:
- A photo ID
- Social security card
- A voided check that shows your bank account and routing number
- Prior tax returns from the past two years or so
Next, provide all income documentation. Whether you're filing as a single person with one W2 form, or married filing jointly with W2 and self-employed spouse, you'll need to submit any paperwork that shows what your income has looked like for the past year. Income can come from many places, not just your primary place of work. These documents may include the following:
- W2, submitted to you from your employer by Jan 31st
- 1099-MISC form, reporting any miscellaneous income such as rent, royalties, prizes, or other fixed, determinable income
- 1099-INT form, reporting any interest income
- SSA-1099 form for any Social Security benefits
- 1099-G form for any unemployment benefits
- 1098-T form for any scholarships or fellowships
- 1099-R form for disability income
If you're self-employed, you may have other required documentation that your tax preparer will need. Keep records of expenses, such as receipts, in a tax receipt organizer to bring to your appointment.
You'll also need to provide information on your annual expenses. This information is crucial because it will help your tax preparer calculate tax deductions, which may reduce your taxable income. Bring any documentation that accounts for the following:
- Contributions to retirement accounts
- Property taxes paid
- Mortgage interest paid
- College tuition or student loan interest paid
Over the past year, you may have experienced life events that could lead to miscellaneous tax deductions. A qualified tax preparer can help you find those deductions at your appointment. This is why collecting and bringing any documentation on significant events is a good idea, even if you're unsure whether they will qualify.
Keep receipts and other documentation related to the following in your tax receipt organizer, and bring them along:
- Medical/dental bills
- Charity Donations
- Moving expenses (for military personnel)
- Child care costs
These documents - from your documentation to income to various expenses - will help your tax preparer understand where you are financially and what the tax filing process will look like for your family. With your paperwork in place, the tax preparation and filing process doesn't have to be a fearful process. Instead, it can be a smooth and straightforward one.
If you have questions about preparing your taxes or how you can benefit from a qualified tax preparer next tax season, reach out to professionals at Bell Finance. We're excited to answer your questions and help you get the most out of your income any time of the year.