Tax season is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about the documents you need to get ready.
Here are a few things to consider ahead of filing your 2020 tax return.
Find last year’s return
A quick way to find all of the important information you need to file your 2020 tax return is to dig up your 2019 tax return. For instance, you may need to reference your 2019 adjusted gross income (AGI) or look back to see what you received as a state refund. Plus, your old return lists the personal information needed for any spouse(s) or dependent(s).
You can also use it as a comparison tool to ensure you don’t overlook any details when you file your return this tax season.
Understand the IRS timeline
The IRS has not yet announced when it will start accepting tax returns in 2021. But they have made it clear that people who submit returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit will not be issued refunds before mid-February. Delaying these refunds gives the IRS a better chance at combating tax-related identity theft.
Double-check your ITIN
Certain taxpayers who don’t have a Social Security number are required to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). It’s a number issued by the IRS, and those individuals are required to use it if they want to file a federal tax return.
ITINs expire on a scheduled date and must be renewed prior to filing a return the following tax season. If you were assigned an ITIN, double check when yours expires to know if you need to renew it this year.
Tax Filing Preparation Checklist
To start preparing to file your return, use this checklist to gather the tax and finance documents you need to make your filing time quick and efficient. Keep in mind, not all items listed will apply to your specific tax situation.
- Social Security Numbers (SSN) or tax ID numbers
- Child-care records, including the child-care provider’s tax ID number (if applicable) and the total fees paid to the provider or babysitter.
- Form 8332 – (This is only applicable if you are not your child’s custodial parent.) This form proves the child’s custodial parent releases their right to claim the child as a dependent to you.
- Form W-2 – You’ll need this form for every traditional part-time or full-time position you held with a company during the year.
- Form 1099-G – If you are unemployed or were at one point during the year, this form documents any unemployment compensation you received. You’ll also receive Form 1099-G if you received a state refund for the previous tax year
Self-Employed (contractor or freelancer)
- Form 1099-MISC – Used to report miscellaneous income, like rental income and royalties
- Form 1099-NEC – New for 2020: used to report non-employee compensation
- Form 1099-K – Form used to report certain payments received through reportable payment card transactions
- Schedule K-1 – Issued to report each partner’s share of partnership earnings, losses, deductions, and credits on an investment
- Business expense records, including receipts and credit card statements
- Estimated tax payment records (Check your Form 1040-ES!)
- Workplace information (i.e., square footage of your home office, payment receipts if you rent a space outside of your home)
- Business-use asset information for tracking depreciation
- Up-to-date income and expense records
- Rental asset information for tracking depreciation
- Estimated tax payment records
- Form 1099-R – This form reports any pension, IRA or annuity income.
- Traditional IRA basis – (Compile the amount of money you contributed to an IRA that was already taxed.)
- Form SSA-1099 – This form reports any social security benefits you received during the year.
- Form RRB-1099 – If you work for the railroad, this form indicates the payments you received from the Railroad Retirement Board.
- Form RRB-1099-R – This document reports the annuity or pension payments railroad workers received from the Railroad Retirement Board.
- Form 5498-SA – Used to report contributions to a health savings account
- Form 5498 – Lists IRA contribution amounts, including catch-up contributions, required minimum distributions (RMDs), and the fair market value of the account
- Form 5498-QA – Furnished by the issuer of a Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) savings account; reports contributions, rollovers, and program-to-program transfers
- Form 5498-ESA – Used to report contributions to a Coverdell education savings account
- Form 1099-SA – If you use HSA funds during the year, this form reports the distributions you took.
- Form 1099-LTC – This form is sent to you if you received any long-term care benefits.
- Form 1099-INT – Used to report interest income
- Form 1099-OID – Reports original issue discount interest as part of a person’s income
- Form 1099-DIV – Used by banks to report dividends and other distributions to taxpayers
- Form 1099-B – Itemizes all investment transactions made during the tax year.
- Form 1099-S – Used to accurately report the earnings from a real estate sale
- All investment acquisition dates along with cost records or another cost basis of the property you sold
- An up-to-date record of any expenses related to your investments
- Record of estimated tax payments made to cover the tax bill on the income from those investments
Miscellaneous Income or Losses
- Form W-2G – Reports gambling winnings and any federal income tax withheld from those winnings
- A detailed record of hobby income and expenses
- Information on any prizes or awards you received during the tax year
- Details on Trusts
- Royalty income 1099-MISC
- Records of any alimony paid or received (Make sure your ex-spouse’s name and SSN is included.)
- Form 1098 – Mortgage Interest Statement
- Real estate tax records
- Personal property tax records
- Receipts for energy-saving home improvements
- Medical expense records
- Records of any non-cash or cash donations made to charitable organizations
- Record of miles driven while volunteering for a charity
- Form 1098-T – Reports billed tuition expenses at a college or university
- Receipts for educational expenses, like books and other supplies
- Scholarship or fellowship records
- Form 1098-E – Reports how much a tax filer paid in student loan interest
State and Local Taxes
- Record of the state and local income tax you paid throughout the year
- Vehicle sales tax invoice, if applicable
- Record of the amount of sales tax paid during the year
If you lived in a federally declared disaster relief area in 2020, you’ll need this information when filing your tax return:
- Name of the city and county that you worked or owned property in that was declared a disaster area
- Property loss records (i.e., appraisals, clean-up costs)
- Detailed list of rebuilding costs
- Paperwork that supports any insurance reimbursements or claims to be paid
- FEMA assistance information