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Woman gathers her tax forms
Gathering paperwork can make filing easier for you or your tax preparer.
posted in: Financial Wellness
by Steve Fast

It’s tax time: what documents do you need?

Thanks to a Monday state holiday in the District of Columbia, and the traditional date falling on a weekend, Tax Deadline Day in 2017 is April 18.

The extended deadline might give you a few more days to get your paperwork together, but don’t dawdle. There are a number of documents you’ll want to locate before the filing can be started.

Collect the basics

With the complications that come with a tax code that runs over 70,000 pages, many Americans just want to hand the ball off to someone whose job it is to file taxes. But tax preparers aren’t psychic. Your tax pro will need certain information from you before taking the rest of the work off your hands.

If you are working with a new preparer you will need to supply identification for yourself, and also for your spouse (if filing jointly), and for all dependents claimed. Forms of ID that are acceptable include any government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license or passport) or a Social Security card.

You will also want to collect your previous year’s tax form and any information that relates to a change in your tax status. Working with a tax preparer to file or doing it yourself, life changes such a marriage, divorce, a change of address, the purchase of a home, or the inheritance of money or property are all important to note.

Don’t jump the gun

The extra days of this year’s tax season aren’t a benefit to everyone. Maybe you are one of a very small percentage of human beings whose heart rate goes up in excitement with the sight of a 1040EZ. Or if you are expecting a refund, maybe you just don’t want Uncle Sam to hold on to your cash one day longer than needed.

If you are looking to file as soon as possible, tap the breaks just a little. Don’t be too eager to file unless you are sure you have all the paperwork.

Most income sources owe you a corresponding form. Make sure you have all of your W-2 forms for traditional salary and wages. If you changed jobs near the end or beginning of the year check to see that income distributed in the current tax season doesn’t produce an overlooked W-2 form.

There are many variations of the 1099 form related to other specific sources of income, ranging from self-employment to investment earnings. Check the IRS website for clarity on what type of form you should receive.

It is also up to you to supply documents for any income not covered by these forms. If you are working with a tax services provider it is useful to clarify your income sources and ask what other documents need to be tracked down.

All those receipts

Before the vision of a shoebox filled with tiny slips of paper freezes your brain into inaction, know that’s not the kind of documentation we’re talking about here (unless you keep the following documents in a shoebox filled with tiny slips of paper).

If you are going to claim major expenses they can require documentation. This could include larger charitable contributions, mortgage interest and property taxes, and other potential deductions. The verification of these expenses can be provided in the form of cancelled checks, bank statements, and those paper receipts.

If you don’t know, ask for some help

This list is far from complete. There are other documents you may need to consider depending on how detailed of a return you or a tax professional use for the filing.

Ask your tax preparer or attorney what else needs to be provided. If you are not using a tax pro there may be free tax assistance in your community.

And you probably shouldn’t put it off until April 17.

COUNTRY Financial® does not give tax or legal advice.  Please consult your attorney or tax advisor regarding your specific situation.


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