Time to Start Preparing

Detail of stopwatch with selective focus.

While most see January as the start of something new, you should also see it as a time to start the collection of your prior year information. Here are some things to consider:

Receive and Review Informational Tax Forms. Create a list of all your anticipated W-2s, 1099-MISC, 1099-DIV, 1099-B, and SSA-1099s. Check them off as you receive them, but not before confirming the information is accurate.

Be aware of other informational tax form needs. Here are some of the more common.
Arrow W2-G for any gambling winnings
Arrow 1099-G for any tax refunds or unemployment payments
Arrow 1099-K for any credit card activity over $20,000 and 200 transactions. Look for this if you are a heavy seller on sites like Amazon or E-bay.

Don’t forget your 1098s. Like 1099’s, Form 1098’s provide information to help maximize your possible tax deductions. Here are some of the most common.

Arrow 1098 mortgage interest statement
Arrow 1098-T for confirmation of tuition and fee payments to colleges and universities.
Arrow 1098-C for confirmation of the value of contributed property like a used car to a charitable organization.
Arrow 1098-E to report any student loan interest

The NEW 1095. Most taxpayers will now need to provide proof of adequate health insurance. This proof will be required to file your tax return and is typically done using Form 1095. Your employer will usually provide this to you if you are not purchasing insurance through Medicare or through the new Federal Affordable Care Act marketplace. Please be aware of this new form and look for it.

Other records; Collect your receipts and sort them. Using last year’s tax return, begin to gather and sort your necessary tax records. Sort your tax records to match the items on your tax return. Make sure you have the necessary documentation. Here is a master list of the more common in no particular order:

Check Informational tax forms (W-2, 1099, 1098, 1095-A, plus others) that disclose wages, interest income, dividends, and capital gain/loss activity
Check Other forms that disclose possible income (jury duty, unemployment, IRA distributions and similar items)
Check Business K-1 forms
Check Social Security records
Check Mortgage interest statements
Check Tuition paid statements
Check Property tax statements
Check Mileage log(s) for business, moving, medical, and charitable driving
Check Medical, dental and vision expenses
Check Business expenses
Check Records of any asset purchases and sales
Check Health insurance records (including Medicare and Medicaid)
Check Charitable contribution receipts and documentation
Check Bank and investment statements
Check Credit card statements
Check Records of any out of state purchases that may require use tax
Check Records of any estimated tax payments
Check Home sales records
Check Educational expenses (including student loan interest expense)
Check Casualty and theft loss documentation
Check Moving expenses
Check Retirement contribution records

Remember, if in doubt whether something is important for tax purposes, retain the documentation. It is better to save unnecessary documentation than to wish you had saved the documents to support your deduction. By starting now, you can identify missing items in time to meet the tax filing deadline.