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Start Organizing Your Tax Information

On Jan 31st, your employers (if you have one) will begin sending out Form W-2 documents and it pays to have your other documents organized and prepared as early as possible. If you’re owe a rebate, the faster you submit your tax return the sooner you’ll see your hard earned cash returned to you. If you owe money, then you might be able to dawdle a little bit since this year’s due date is April 17th (because the 15th is a Saturday). In either case, you should probably start sifting through that pile on your desk (if you’re like me) and see if you can rack up some hefty deductions.

What I find helpful is a list of the documents you’ll need to fill out and a list of documents you expect to get. It’s not uncommon for W-2’s and 1099’s to get lost in the mail so you want to identify problems as early as possible.

For me it’s simply, I need a Form 1040 for my Federal Tax Return [3] and a Form 502 Maryland Tax Return [4]. My girlfriend will have to fill out a 1040, a NJ-1040 New Jersey [5] and a Form 502 Maryland Tax Return [4].

As for documents, I’ll wait for 1099-MISC’s from various online affiliate brokers and a Form W-2 from my employer. I’ll also be waiting for 1099-INTs from ING Direct, Emigrant Direct, and the local banks I use. Finally, I should get a Form 1098 for the interest I’ve paid towards the mortgage from my two home lenders and a summary of the student loan interest I’ve paid to date as well. That should cover the documents I’m waiting for and I’ll cross each one off my list as they arrive.

As for the documents I already have and need to collect, I have a handful of receipts for business-related expenses that I have filed away in a manila folder and the receipts from charitable donations also fit handily in another manila folder.

Preparing now gives you the chance to find documents (or find replacements) if you’ve misplaced them without the pressure of April 15th (17th really) looming.

(Photo: blmurch [6])