What Basic Documents Do I Need to Do My Taxes?
If you have several avenues of income or lots of opportunities for deductions, gathering the right tax forms and documents can seem overwhelming. Here are the basics to help guide you.
- Documents and records you’ll need for your taxes:
- Income tax forms (W-2, 1099s, etc.)
- Investment income and retirement information
- Tax forms for deductions (donations, medical payments, real estate, etc.)
- Stimulus payment information
It’s always important to keep taxes in mind throughout the year to avoid leaving all the work to the last minute. And whether you are a regular W-2 employee or a business owner will significantly impact the information you need, the tax forms you will receive, and the tax planning strategy you implement.
No matter the situation, start gathering your documents and records early. Let’s walk through the paperwork and information you may need to complete your tax return.
First, you’ll need all the essentials about yourself and your spouse, if applicable, to complete your taxes:
- Name and spouse’s full name
- Social security number or tax ID number
- Spouse’s social security number
- Date of birth and spouse’s date of birth
- Bank account information if using the direct deposit method for your refund
If you have dependents, you’ll also need to gather their personal information and childcare records for your taxes, including their date of birth and social security number.
You also may need to provide an identity protection PIN issued by the IRS, if applicable, for you, your spouse, or a dependent. This number is used to protect your social security number from being used by someone else to file a tax return in your name. The IRS recently announced that all taxpayers are now eligible to get an identity protection PIN.
Forms and sources of income
Now, let’s take a look at the most common forms needed for income reporting. By the time you are completing your taxes, you should have received these forms from your employer or anyone who paid you throughout the year:
- Form W-2: for regular employees
- Form 1099-MISC: some self-employed individuals may receive this form from clients
- Form 1099-NEC: most independent contractors will now receive this form from clients
- Form 1099-G: reports government payments, including unemployment
- Form 1095-A: reports health insurance marketplace statements
To summarize: if you are a regular employee, you will receive Form W-2; independent contractors will receive either Form 1099-NEC or Form 1099-MISC; and the unemployed will receive Form 1099-G.
That said, some contractors paid through third-party payment processors, such as PayPal, won’t receive a form if the annual amount is less than $20,000 and 200 transactions. If this is the case, you’ll need to self-report this income. If pay exceeds the threshold, the payment processor or freelance site should send a Form 1099-K.
Make sure you have a method for tracking income throughout the year so you can confirm that you’ve received all applicable forms from your employer(s) and/or clients.
If you are a small business owner or an independent contractor, you probably have to pay estimated quarterly taxes throughout the year. You will need Form 1040-ES with your tax return, which is a record of the payments you made.
Other types of income you may need to report include prizes or awards, income from a trust, hobby income, or gambling income. Even if you do not receive a tax form for these payments, you still need to report them on your tax return.
Investment and retirement income
If you have any investment accounts, including retirement plans, you will also need the applicable forms from your financial institutions before doing taxes. These include:
- Form 1099-INT: where interest income is reported
- Form 1099-R: income from a pension, IRA, or annuity
- Form 1099-OID: used if the original issue discount (OID) in gross income is at least $10
- Form 1099-DIV: dividend income
- Form 1099-B: for proceeds from broker and barter exchange income
- Form 1099-S: reports income from real estate sales or exchanges and some royalty payments
- Forms 1099-SA: reimbursements from Health Savings Accounts
- Form 1099-LTC: long-term care reimbursements
Today’s institutions may have enrolled you in a paperless program. So, instead of receiving a physical copy of your investment tax form in the mail, you may be able to find it in your online portal for easier access. If this is an option, it can help speed up the preparation process.
Documents for deductions
Depending on your situation, you may need certain statements or receipts to claim deductions on your return. For example, if you made significant charitable donations, make sure you have those records to report that information accurately. Charitable donations may be cash or non-cash donations.
Other records you may need for deductions include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Doctor/hospital visit payments
- Childcare expenses
- Payments to daycare centers or other childcare providers
- Homeownership documents, including:
- Property tax records
- Form 1098 or other mortgage interest documents
- Records for energy-efficiency home improvements
- Educational expenses, reported on Form 1098-T or 1098-E
- Scholarships or fellowships received
- Other qualified educational expenses
- Educator (K-12) expenses
- Supplies for the classroom
- Tax payments
- State and local tax paid aside from wage withholding
- Vehicle sales tax
- Retirement contributions on Form 5498, 5498-QA, or 5498-ESA
- Disaster payments for federally declared disaster
These deductions can make a big impact on your tax burden, so always be thorough in record-keeping to ensure everything is reported.
Stimulus payment information
For tax years 2020 and 2021, you will need information about the economic impact payments (EIPs), or stimulus payments, if you qualified for them. IRS Notice 1444 shows the amounts you were paid, but keep records of when you received it and how much you were given each time.
If you did not receive the amounts you are owed, you can claim the Recovery Rebate Credit for the 2020 tax return to claim the rest of a stimulus payment.
Work with a tax professional for your tax-related questions
Depending on your work, income, and investments, your tax return may get complicated fast. To make sure you have all the documents you need—and that everything is claimed that you’re eligible for—work with a tax professional who knows how to take care of it all.
The team at Provident CPA and Business Advisors is ready to help. We can help you minimize your tax burden as a business owner or individual taxpayer. Work with our team to create the right tax plan. Contact us today to learn more about our services.