Your Tax Pro Needs All This to Prepare Your Return

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By Robert Flach

For your tax preparer to allow you to take advantage of all the tax deductions, credits and loopholes to which you are entitled, you need to give him or her complete, detailed and accurate information.

The Necessities
  • The full names, as they appear on the Social Security card, Social Security numbers and dates of birth for you, your spouse and all dependents.
  • The relationship of each person you want to claim as a dependent, and whether or not, and how long, they lived with you.
  • All W-2s (all copies) and the final pay-stub for the year for each of your employers. Make copies of your W-2s to keep before giving them to your tax preparer. You may need to provide a copy of your W-2s to third parties for a variety of non-tax reasons.
  • All 1099s (for interest, dividends, gross proceeds, pensions, distributions from a Qualified Tuition Program, and other income), 1098s (for mortgage interest, contribution of a motor vehicle to charity, student loan interest, and tuition and fees), and K-1s and all attachments (for partnerships, sub-S corporations, estates, and trusts) from all sources.
  • New this year, all 1095-As, 1095-Bs, and 1095-Cs you receive for health insurance coverage.
  • All year-end statements and information from brokerage and mutual fund accounts and any average cost statement you receive from a mutual fund on the sale of fund shares.
  • If this is your first year with a new tax preparer, give him copies of your 2011, 2012, and 2013 federal and state tax returns.
And you need detailed information about these:
  • Itemized deductions (unreimbursed medical payments, charitable contributions, and job-related, job-seeking, and investment expenses),
  • Rental income and expenses, and/or
  • Self-employment income and expenses.
Your tax preparer doesn't necessarily need to see actual bills, receipts or cancelled checks. For the most part, he or she will just need numbers. Provide specific numbers for all of the deductions you are claiming. "Claim the maximum" or "Whatever I am allowed" or "Same as last year" is not appropriate. The maximum is what you actually paid. Tell your tax pro "$1,023.50" or "$20 per week for 50 weeks" or "4,638 miles."

For Special Situations, Provide Additional Information
  • Did you donate clothes, books, household items, furniture, etc to a church or charity? Provide any receipts and acknowledgements and a detailed listing of the items donated and their value. If you donated a car to a church or charity provide all the paperwork you received from the charity, especially the Form 1098-C, plus the original cost and date of purchase of the car.
  • Did you sell stock, bonds, mutual fund shares, or any other investments? Your tax pro will need the cost basis information for all trades. This information may be included on the Form 1099-B you received from your broker or the mutual fund house. But if the cost basis information for all trades is not included on this statement, have your broker provide you with a "profit and loss" report for all the year's trades that reconciles to the Form 1099B for each account. If you sold an investment you inherited your preparer will need the number of shares you inherited and the date of death of the person from whom they were inherited.
  • Did you buy or sell real estate? You must give your tax pro all closing/settlement statements, plus the cost of any capital improvements made over the years to a property you have sold.
  • Did you receive a distribution from an IRA, pension, or other retirement account, or convert a traditional IRA to a Roth account? You must provide the year-end statements for all IRA accounts. And with a distribution, your tax pro will need to know if you "took the money and ran" or rolled-over any of it to an IRA.
  • Did you pay alimony? Give you tax preparer the Social Security number of your ex-spouse, the amount of alimony paid for the year and any other required payments, such as health insurance premiums or real estate expenses, that you made on behalf of your ex-spouse.
  • Did you purchase a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, boat or airplane? How much was the sales tax?
  • Did you refinance a mortgage? Give your preparer the Closing/Settlement Statement for the refinance and tell him or her the term of the new loan.
  • Did you win at the track or in the casinos? Provide details of your gambling activity for the year.
  • Did you have dependents, or were you in college? In addition to all Form 1098-Ts you receive give your tax pro all the bursar's reports"for the year that show tuition and other payments. You may be able to print-out a financial report from the college's website. Your preparer will also need to know what was spent on course-related books, supplies, and equipment. If you have taken a distribution from a Section 529 Qualified Tuition Program you must also provide the cost of room and board.
  • Did you pay for child care, whether directly to the provider or through an employer's Flexible Spending Account? The preparer needs the name, address, Social Security or Employer Identification number, and amount paid for each child to all care providers. You may be able to get detailed statements from the providers.
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