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Get It Done: Prepare to Prepare

When it comes to taxes, preparation is key -- whether you hire an in-the-flesh tax pro, use software, or fill out your tax return longhand. Gather the following common reference materials and official documents to help your date with Uncle Sam go more smoothly.

Income records

  • Form W-2: wages, salary, and tips
  • Form 1099-MISC: freelance and/or contract income (more than $600)
  • Form 1099-G: refund, credit, or offset of state/local taxes, unemployment income
  • Form W-2G: gambling/lottery winnings
  • Form K-1: profits from partnerships, trusts, small business
  • Bank, brokerage statements
  • Rental income (proof of payments)
  • Alimony received
  • Hobby income/prizes/awards

Investment records

  • Form 1099-B: proceeds on the sale of stocks and/or bonds
  • Form 1099-DIV: dividend and distribution income
  • Form 1099-INT: interest income on bonds/treasuries
  • Form 1099-R: distributions from pensions, profit sharing, IRAs, insurance
  • Form 1099-SA: health-care reimbursements
  • Form 1099-SSA: Social Security benefits
  • Form 2439: undistributed capital gains from mutual funds and/or REITs
  • Year-end brokerage and mutual fund statements
  • Security trade confirmations
  • Nondeductible IRA contributions (use Form 8606)

Deduction records

  • Form 1098: mortgage interest and points (more than $600)
  • Form 1098-E: student loan interest (more than $600)
  • Birth dates and Social Security numbers for all dependents claimed
  • Alimony paid
  • Child/dependent care costs (Form W-10, get provider's TIN and/or EIN)
  • Charitable contributions (receipt for non-cash or proof of payment for cash donations; written acknowledgement for donations of $250 or more)
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for charity work (receipts for gas, parking, and tolls, or mileage log)
  • Records for non-reimbursed job-related expenses (union dues, education, moving expenses)
  • Rental property expenses (proof of expenses for operating the property)
  • Receipts for real estate and personal property taxes (if not included in Form 1098)
  • IRA contributions
  • Receipts for health-care expenses (if total is greater than 7.5% of your AGI)
  • Property losses due to casualty or theft (police/insurance documentation; receipts for work)
  • Gambling losses (written log, receipts, or other proof of wager)
  • Receipt for last year's tax prep fees
  • Receipts for large purchases if deducting state and local general (as opposed to income) taxes
  • Investment expenses

Credit records

  • Form 1040-ES: estimated taxes already paid
  • Form 1098-T: tuition payments used for Hope/Learning credits
  • Form 1099-INT/DIV: taxes paid on foreign investments
  • Form 8880: retirement savings contribution credit

For more on preparing your tax return, read about:

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (16)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 29, 2014, at 11:52 PM, rowan147 wrote:

    Before completing your taxes this year, be sure that both you and your accountant review last year's tax return. Why? The return will provide you both with a wealth of information that can be valuable to this year's return, including:

    Tax loss carry forward information

    Withholding information

    Information about how certain income may have been treated, such as capital gains or traditional income

  • Report this Comment On September 15, 2014, at 1:08 PM, norasantos101 wrote:

    When it comes to taxes I am not very organized. I never know what documents to save for taxes and what I can throw out, so I end up keeping everything. I am glad I found this list of things I will need in order to help me prepare for taxes.

  • Report this Comment On October 17, 2014, at 3:29 PM, calebhart54 wrote:

    I had no idea that there are so many forms involved in preparing for filing. It's important that you have a good accountant who knows his stuff. I have a friend that has handled our taxes but he never asked me for all these things. I'm a stock broker by trade and don't know a whole lot about accounting, but I'm glad to know that there are people out there that can help me with this kind of stuff.

  • Report this Comment On November 06, 2014, at 11:42 AM, patnc wrote:

    I am in Winston Salem, NC and I am not an accountant, so having to deal with the many types of forms necessary, since I operate several small businesses, it is difficult for me to manage my filings, in addition to my bookkeeping or accounting. My bookkeeper and tax accountant at Logic Tax & Accounting was helpful and many thanks to Jenny Cline (

  • Report this Comment On February 11, 2015, at 5:00 AM, hardydonaldsson wrote:

    I actually found this super useful! I love it when an article is written with taste and I can get the info I need from it. I even included it into my latest blog post here:

  • Report this Comment On September 21, 2015, at 5:35 PM, 89jackmoore wrote:

    Wow, I didn't realize there was so much you had to get together. You really mean it when you say you have to prepare to prepare; I could see it taking days, or even weeks, to get all of this ready for tax season. Which means you can't put it off until April if you want to have any chance of getting it done on time.

  • Report this Comment On October 13, 2015, at 5:13 AM, connorgilroy wrote:

    Its a good and important ideas you are sharing here, I actually found your article then i am so happy because these are very rare case for finding these type of article. I am glad I found this list of things I will need in order to help me prepare for taxes.

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