Tips for Tax Procrastinators: Use a checklist

When you're getting your tax documents ready, it's helpful to follow a checklist to make sure you've got everything you need. There are hundreds of tax forms and thousands of tax situation, so this checklist doesn't cover them all. But it's a great basic list to follow when you're getting together a simple tax return:

  • Personal information for all people being included on the tax return, including social security numbers
  • W-2s for wages
  • 1099s for small business or subcontractor income
  • 1099s for interest or dividends received
  • Information on last year's state tax refund
  • Information on sales of stocks
  • Retirement account contributions
  • Education costs for college or graduate school
  • Medical expenses, including health insurance paid
  • Items related to your home: mortgage interest, property taxes
  • Charitable contributions
  • Child care expense details (provider, tax i.d. number, total paid)
  • State or federal estimated taxes paid last year
  • Small Business - Information on your income and expenses if you will be filing Schedule C
  • Rental Properties - Information on your income and expenses if you will be filing Schedule E
If you're using a professional tax preparer, they can provide you with a "tax organizer" which is a long questionnaire that will help you gather all the documents you'll need.

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Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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