I realize this isn’t exactly a checklist, but it’s a list, so … close enough.
This is a general list that covers the most common tax-related items. It’s completely impractical for me to ask you about every possible source of income or tax deduction, so ultimately it’s up to you to make sure that everything gets reported!
If I did NOT prepare your tax return last year, please provide:
- A signed copy of the Engagement Letter, if you have easy access to a printer. If not, don’t worry about it; you can sign it later. (If I prepared your taxes for you last year, I probably already have a signed copy on file for you, so you can skip this.)
- A pdf or paper copy of your prior year tax return, if not prepared by me. If you have a pdf copy, you can send it to me electronically. If I prepared your taxes last year, I already have a copy.
- A picture ID, for identity verification purposes, if you don’t have a full copy of your prior year tax return.
- Account number and routing number for your bank account, if you anticipate getting a refund and would like to have it direct deposited.
Information I will need from you, in paper or electronic form:
- All tax forms you have received that show income, such as W-2’s, 1099’s, and K-1’s. Please verify that the name and social security number are correct on all forms you receive.
- A summarized list of any income not reported to you on a tax form. This would include things like tips, jury duty pay, prizes, scholarships, gambling winnings, foreign income, sales of personal property, etc.
- All tax forms you have received that show deductions. These are usually 1098’s for things like mortgages and student loan interest.
- Note that you might have to do some digging to find 1099’s, 1098’s, etc. These aren’t always mailed to you. You may need to go online to download them from your bank, brokerage, loan servicer, etc.
- New children/dependents. I will need to know full names, birth dates, and social security numbers, if not shown on your prior year tax return.
- A summarized list of charitable and/or political contributions. Please do NOT send me receipts or confirmations! I only need a summary; the receipts are for your own records.
- Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc donations. If you’ve donated more than $500 worth of “stuff”, I will need a summary showing 1) the name of the organization donated to; and for each individual drop-off, (2) the date of the donation, (3) a rough description of what was donated (e.g. “Clothing and Shoes”, “Misc Household Items”), and (4) the aggregate re-sale value for that donation date. If the aggregate/total is under $500 for the year, I do not need that detail, just the total dollar amount (e.g. “Used items donated to charity – $400”).
- Self-employment income. Please prepare a summarized list of income and expenses. See this pdf. This includes independent contracting, sole-proprietorships, single-member LLC’s, or any other unregistered small business.
- Rental income. Please prepare a summarized list of income and expenses. See this pdf. If you have made significant renovations (beyond regular maintenance) to the property, please provide me with the cost of the renovations and the date they were completed.
- Childcare expenses. I will need the name, address, phone number, and taxpayer identification number of the childcare provider, and the amounts you paid for each child. Include only pre-K expenses, after-school care, or summer daycare. (If you’ve been paying a nanny “under the table”, then I won’t be able to prepare your tax returns for you!)
- College tuition. I will need Form 1098-T showing the tuition billed for the year. Please also provide the total amount you actually paid during the year, if different.
- Estimated tax payments. I will need a list of the dates and amounts paid, federal and state.
- Bought a home, refinanced a mortgage, or borrowed against home equity. Please provide a copy of the closing statement, showing all closing costs. For any cash-out refinance, I will need to know what percentage of the loan proceeds were used for home improvements.
- Energy-saving home improvements. Please provide a summary, as these may be eligible for a tax credit.
- Alimony or spousal support. I will need to the name and social security number of the payer or payee, and the amount paid/received.
- Retirement account (IRA, 401k, etc) and HSA contributions and rollovers. These are often not reported to you on a tax form until well after tax season ends, so please provide me with the total amount contributed. (If the contributions were through your employer, this generally isn’t necessary, since it should be indicated already on your W-2 in box 12.)
- Health insurance and medical expenses. I’ll need to know if you had any gap in health insurance during the year. Medical expenses are generally deductible only to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your income.
- Home-office deduction. Please provide me with a summarized list of your expenses. (Rent, utilities, maintenance, HOA fees, etc.) I’ll also need to know the square footage of your office space (used exclusively for business), and the square footage of your entire home. Note that there is no longer any deduction for home office expenses if your income is reported to you on a W-2.
Unreimbursed work-related expenses, prior year tax preparation fees, financial advisor fees.Please provide a summarized list. In most cases, these expenses are only deductible to the extent they exceed 2% of your income. (No longer relevant for tax years after 2017. Deduction has been eliminated.)
- Other tax-related items for which you may not have received a tax form. Please provide a summarized list. Common items include property taxes paid, student loan interest, Oregon college savings plan contributions, educator expenses (for classroom teachers), etc.
- Anything else that you think might be relevant. You know your situation better than I do!
If you have any questions about the above items, or if you don’t know if they apply to you, don’t worry. Just ask, and we’ll figure it out together.
For record-keeping purposes, I will scan a copy of all documents you provide that are relevant to your tax return. The original copies of all documents will be returned to you when your tax return has been prepared and filed, or at any earlier time if you request them.