As you prepare to file your taxes, it’s important to make sure that you have all of the forms you need. Whether you prepare your own taxes, or take them to an accountant, there are a few must-haves when it comes to your tax documents.
Make sure that you are ready — well ahead of time — with the documents you need. You don’t want to be scrambling to put everything together at the last minute. You’ll feel a lot less stress if you are organized earlier. Here are some of the documents you need as you file your taxes:
- Form 1040 : This is the IRS form for individuals. This is your tax return.
- W-2 : When you are on payroll, your employer will send you this form. Watch for it, since it needs to be turned in with your 1040.
- 1099 Forms: These are additional income forms that report income that you receive that isn’t connected to a traditional job. Your INT form will show your interest income, MISC form shows your contract work, DIV offers insight into your dividend income, and SSA reports Social Security income. Also, new for tax year 2011, is the 1099-K form , which reports income from various transactions handled by third parties.
- K-1 forms: This is the return you file if you have some sort of small business, partnership or trust.
- Mortgage interest paid: You will receive a report of mortgage interest that you paid on Form 1098, if you have a home loan. You should also receive information about what you paid in property taxes and PMI premiums (2011 is the last tax year for PMI deductions, unless Congress acts).
- P&L Statement: If you have a business, your profit & loss statement needs to be sorted out. Bring it to your accountant, or work it up for your own filing records. If you are a sole proprietorship, you don’t need a P&L; you can use Schedule C to the same effect.
- Student loan interest paid: You will receive a Form 1098-E if you have paid student loan interest.
- Receipts: If you are claiming deductions, make sure you have the receipts. These don’t all have to be sent to the IRS (although charitable contribution receipts do), but you should keep them with your tax return records. You want to be able to back everything up in case of a tax audit . This includes moving expenses, business travel, and other deductible expenses.
- Other documentation: If you are claiming any deductions or credits , you need to back it up with documentation. From homebuyer tax credits for past years, to information related to a casualty loss deduction, you need the proper documents.
Gather your necessary documents together as soon as you can. I actually like to keep my documents organized throughout the year. I keep my tax-related receipts in a folder as I get them, and keep other tax-related information properly organized. As I receive 1099s and other forms in the mail or email, I keep them together so that they are all ready to go. It makes it easier to gather everything up when it’s time to see the accountant.
(Photo: davidreber )