Knowing how to get organized for tax preparation will help you save time and maximize your refund.
Tax season is upon us. Whether you do your taxes or have someone prepare them for you, now is the time to get your paperwork in order. With this list you’ll have all of the information needed to complete your returns without missing deductions, so you can get back every penny that’s yours.
Gather the following documents and organize them by category. I use file folders slipped into an accordion envelope. Once finished, I add a copy of my return, close it up and label it with the year then tuck it on a shelf in my office closet.
Seven years later, when it’s safe to dispose of old papers, I just grab the envelope from my closet shelf and start shredding. The file folders and holder are reusable, which gives me a jump start on the following year.
To make it easy for you to gather your materials, the list below contains Amazon links. Using these links doesn’t increase your price, but it does generate a small commission which pays for the coffee that powers this blog. For more about other products I use in my home, check out my Recommended Products Page.
How To Get Organized For Tax Preparation
You will need:
- Social Security numbers for you, your spouse, and your dependents.
- Child care provider’s name, address, and Social Security or Tax ID number.
- Domestic employee’s name, address, and Social Security or Tax ID number.
- Ex-spouse’s Social Security number if you paid alimony.
Employment and Income Information
- W-2 forms
- 1099 forms
- Unemployment compensation totals
- Misc. income (rent, royalties, prizes, gambling winnings)
- Partnership, trust, and S-corp income
- Social Security benefits
- Railroad Retirement Benefits (RRI)
- Jury Duty pay
- Alimony received
- State and local tax refunds
- Mortgage interest
- Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) payments
- Property tax payments
- Property insurance paid
- Moving expenses
- Energy Star credits
- Interest income statements
- Dividend income statements
- Student loan interest paid
- Penalties for early withdrawal of time deposits (e.g., CDs)
- IRA or other retirement plan contributions
- Auto info and mileage if you drove for business purposes
- Charitable gift receipts
- Unreimbursed expenses associated with volunteer work
- Unreimbused expenses for your job (e.g., travel, dues, uniforms
- Job hunting and job-related education expenses
- Childcare expenses
- Medical expenses (e.g., doctor, dental, vision — complete IRS list here.)
- Medical savings accounts
- Adoption expenses
- Savings deposit box rental
- Alimony paid
- Tax preparation fees and expenses
- Casualty theft or losses
- Estimated tax payments for current year (federal, state, and local)
Self Employment Information
- Income (from business and partnerships
- Advertising costs
- Office supplies, cleaning, and repairs
- Employee pay
- Payments to contractors
- Business-related meals, entertainment, travel, and gifts
- Professional licensing fees, dues, and subscriptions
- Home office deductions (if applicable): bills for home utilities, insurance, home owner association, and general home maintenance and repairs.
- Contributions to SEP-IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs and Solo 401(k)s
Get a jump start on next year
If you’ve been tossing all of your papers and receipts into one large box throughout the year, you’ve even more reason to dread tax season. Make it easier on yourself next year by creating a duplicate set of file folders and stashing them in a second accordion folder. As receipts and paperwork come in, you’ll be ready to store them quickly so next year’s tax preparation will be a breeze.