Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tax Preparation

It's approaching tax time. The tax forms are already coming in the mail. If you have not already done so, set up a tax folder to hold all the tax related papers. I keep a tax folder in my file drawer all year round so that when documentation of contributions are sent, I drop them right into this folder.

I also have filed nearby last year's tax folder. When I think everything has come in, I use last year's folder to see what was recorded last year. Many CPAs also send out a worksheet.

Watch the mail for your tax forms. W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, and the fairly new 1095-As will start rolling in.

Collect any receipts that you will use to document deductions. I keep these in monthly envelopes all year, so it is relatively easy to pull these.

Also look for:
  • any other forms that disclose possible income (jury duty, unemployment, IRA distributions, etc.)
  • business K-1 forms
  • social security records
  • mortgage interest statements
  • tuition paid statements
  • property tax statements
  • mileage log 
  • medical, dental, and vision expenses
  • business expenses
  • records of any asset purchases and sales
  • health insurance records (including Medicare, Medicaid, and long term health)
  • charitable receipts and documentation
  • bank and investment statements
  • credit card statements
  • records of any out of state purchases that may require use tax
  • records of any estimated tax payments
  • home sales records
  • educational expenses (including student loan interest expense)
  • casualty and theft loss documentation
  • moving expenses
  • contribution records
Income from out of the country will not have a form so you just need to document this if it applies to you.

If you are not sure if something is important for tax purposes, retain the documentation. It is better to save unnecessary documentation than to later wish you had it.

Coordinate your deductions. If you and someone else share a dependent, confirm you are both on the same page as to who will claim the dependent. This would include single taxpayers, divorced taxpayers, taxpayers with elderly parents/grandparents, and parents with older children.

At this point in time, just put everything you find into your tax folder. as you start to prepare your paperwork for your CPA or yourself, pull out last year's tax form to match the items with what you had last year.

Now, set a date on your calendar to actually do the work of adding up your contributions, adding up your mileage, and putting all paperwork in the proper order. Allow more time than you think you'll need. The sooner you can get this done, the sooner you can breathe that big sigh of relief that this huge task is done for another year.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

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