If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get ready to file your taxes. Whether you use a tax professional or prepare your taxes yourself, the first step is to get organized and a tax preparation checklist can help you do that. Here are some tips to help you get started.

 

Collect your income records:  Employers/companies send out W-2s and 1099s by the end of January.  Review these documents carefully as soon as you receive them; if you find a discrepancy, you have plenty of time to get a corrected document.

 

Collect copies of year-end bank, brokerage, and investment account statements:  These may contain needed cost-basis, transaction type, gain/loss information.  They can also serve as proof of IRA contributions.

 

Organize and validate your deductible expenses and eligible tax credits (some may include):

*Work-related receipts

*Receipts/payment records for charitable donations

*Payment records of eligible medical co-payments

*Education costs/student loan interest

*Mortgage interest statement

*Homebuyer tax credit

 

Check out one-time benefits that might apply:  Investments in certain energy-efficient products (such as water heaters, central air conditioners, new windows and doors, and insulation) could make you eligible for tax credits this year.  If you installed a solar energy system (or other type of renewable energy system) you may be eligible for a tax credit. Details about these types of tax credits are available at: www.energysavers.gov.

 

Locate last year’s tax return:  You may need to reference important information for this year’s return.

 

I hope these tips help you with creating your own personal tax-prep checklist.  Please consult a tax professional for tax-related advice.  If you you need assistance with tax information on your accounts, please check out our post here.