Tax appointments can be complicated with all the tax documents you need to file. This guide will guide you through it all — from a checklist of payments and statements to getting a tax refund and tips on how to file taxes better. As a bonus, your tax preparer’s billable hours will drop too!
Here’s how to prepare and what to bring to a tax appointment.
What to Bring to a Tax Appointment
Some documents are easier to remember such as your proof of identity and social security information. On top of these, here’s a checklist of essential records and statements you shouldn’t forget:
- Personal Documents such as social security cards and social security numbers
- Income Records such as Income Statements (e.g. Form 1099 g, 1099 b, 1099 r) Investment Statements, and personal property income records
- Expense Receipts, Tax Deductions, and Tax Credits such as itemized deductions, or state tax payments made
It’s a long list from here, so let’s get started to making you a pro in your next tax appointment!
These are the easiest to prepare since you should already have these records on hand.
Primary Records and Social Security
These are basic forms of information you likely need for the first time you meet with a new your tax advisor:
- Your full name and Social Security number. You should also prepare the social security number of your spouse, your dependents, and other people’s social security information who are included on your tax returns.
- Supporting identification documents that prove ownership of the Social Security information. Other government-issued IDs (e.g. driver’s license) that have your photograph is acceptable
These records will help your tax preparer file your return more efficiently:
- Bank account information for where tax refunds should be deposited and home and business addresses for mailing.
- Tax returns from the last two years can help your tax preparer calculate your taxes more accurately.
- Future significant changes and tax plan records give your tax preparer avenues to minimize your income tax in the next tax year.
- Record of Estimated Tax to set expectations.
Documents for proof of income depend on the source and number of income streams. Being comprehensive will make your income tax more accurate so remember to bring all the documents that apply so your tax preparer can consolidate them all.
- Employment Income forms such as the W-2 form from each of your employers. If your W-2 form has a correction, present form W-2c showing the modification from your employer.
- Self-employment income forms such as 1099 NEC and/or 1099 K and records of income not reported on forms 1099 or 1099 misc.
- Retirement income forms SSA 1099 for Social Security benefits and 1099 r for pension income.
- Unemployment income form 1099 g for unemployment benefits.
- Business financial statements such as your balance sheet, income statement, and general ledger.
Other Types of Income
Be transparent and file all your income streams from personal property to retirement income.
Here’s a checklist of the forms and records for other types of income:
Expense Receipts, Tax Deductions, and Tax Credits
Reducing your taxable income can consequently decrease your tax payments. These expenses can even include charitable donations, childcare expenses, property tax, interest paid, or local taxes that you’ve already paid. So, don’t forget to bring an exhaustive list of expenses in your next tax appointment and file your return!
Major Tax Deduction Documents
These are the tax deductions that will surely make a dent in your taxable income:
Receipts for Expenses
Identify your real estate or property, estimated tax payments, records, and income and expenses for your business; and include these paid expenditures in your checklist.
- Mileage log that shows your total business miles driven for the year
- Asset purchases of long-term assets for your business. This includes buying furniture, technology, vehicles, equipment, or real estate.
- Payroll records that include W-2s you issued as an employer or 1099-NECs issued to contractors.
- Home office expenses that differentiate the square footage of the office vs. the entire home, mortgage interests or rent payments, and division of the utilities, repairs, and property tax of the home office.
- Childcare expenses include your daycare provider’s information with the amount you paid or medical expenses for your dependents.
- Self-employed health insurance premiums that you paid for medical, dental, vision, and other health insurance dedicated to you and your dependents.
- Charitable donations receipts
- Paid state and local taxes receipts
- Retirement contributions such as 401(k) or IRA receipts
- Copy of most recent tax returns to have your own estimated tax payments for this tax year.
Tips for Preparing for Your Tax Appointment
Don’t Forget Government Tax Notices
Some government-issued notices can further reduce your taxes so keep yourself informed and alert. For example, you can present IRS Notice 1444, 1444-B, 1444-C, or IRS Letter 6475 for Economic Impact Payments or stimulus checks.
Have an Organized Filing System and See A Tax Preparer
Being organized leads to multiple benefits. You track paid expenditures that can decrease your taxes, have your own estimated tax payments, act quickly if you spot missing documents without rescheduling a tax appointment, and save on your tax preparer’s billable hours.
Getting an overview of your income and expenses beforehand allows you to check for major differences that shouldn’t be there and make sure the important that you need to file are by using our checklist!
Prepare for Additional Questions
Your tax preparer needs to see through records of what you paid so they will more likely ask questions on any changes that occurred during the year.
These are the hot topics that you should prepare for:
- Other forms of employment such as side jobs
- Investment returns, including alternative forms of investments like cryptocurrency
- Differentiating what should be included in business activities
- Personal questions such as your marital status and changes in the number of dependents
Gather All Recent Expenses
You are entitled to various tax breaks and your tax preparer can unfold them and countercheck with your record of estimated tax. Don’t forget any payments you’ve made, from your old student loan to preparing for the future through retirement contributions. This list will allow your tax preparer to choose the more optimal option for you – to stick with your itemized deductions or a standard deduction.
Prepare for your tax appointments and file your taxes smarter. Bring in a record of estimated tax and be aware of your standard tax return. Improve your preparations by kicking it off with what to bring to your next tax appointment!
Josh is a financial expert with over 15 years of experience on Wall Street as a senior market strategist and trader. His career has spanned from working on the New York Stock Exchange floor to investment management and portfolio trading at Citibank, Chicago Trading Company, and Flow Traders.
Josh graduated from Cornell University with a degree from the Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management at the SC Johnson College of Business. He has held multiple professional licenses during his career, including FINRA Series 3, 7, 24, 55, Nasdaq OMX, Xetra & Eurex (German), and SIX (Swiss) trading licenses. Josh served as a senior trader and strategist, business partner, and head of futures in his former roles on Wall Street.
Josh's work and authoritative advice have appeared in major publications like Nasdaq, Forbes, The Sun, Yahoo! Finance, CBS News, Fortune, The Street, MSN Money, and Go Banking Rates. Josh currently holds areas of expertise in investing, wealth management, capital markets, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and personal finance.
Josh currently runs a wealth management business and investment firm. Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of Top Dollar, where he teaches others how to build 6-figure passive income with smart money strategies that he uses professionally.