What Documents Should you Bring to your Tax Professional

in Tax Information

To make a visit to a tax professional go as smooth as possible, it is important to make sure that you have all of the documents needed to file your return. Taking the time to prepare everything beforehand will eliminate the need to make multiple trips to the tax professional and will speed up the process of getting your taxes filed and the refund in your hand. Of course, the actual documents you need will depend on your personal situation and what business was conducted in the previous tax year. A simple call to your local tax professional will help in figuring out which documents you will need to bring to your appointment.

At the basic level, what you need to bring to the tax professional are any documents that pertain to your income and expenses as well as a form of identification. For income purposes, there are two main forms that are needed and a host of others that are applicable in special situations. Standard working arrangements frequently use a W-2 form, which is essentially just a statement of how much money the employer paid to the employee over the course of the year. The W-2 also documents how much money has already been paid in taxes and other contributions, such as Social Security and Medicare. Another common income document is form 1099. There are actually several different versions of the 1099 form that are used to show diverse income streams, such as interest, dividends, stock trades, Social Security benefits that were received, and income derived from self-employment.

As far as expenses and deductions you plan to claim, the best situation is to keep all receipts throughout the year and an updated spreadsheet so that calculating your deductions at the end of the year will be a snap. If you don’t have a spreadsheet, the actual receipts can be brought to the tax professional and they will determine which ones are valid for a deduction and which ones are not. Some common deduction expenses that are used include real estate taxes, expenses for medical care, charitable donations, expenses related to employment, vehicle registration fees, and gambling losses. A good practice is to keep a receipt if you are unsure whether it can be claimed and let the tax professional decide if it can be used or not.

In addition to income and expense statements, many people have other documents that will be involved in filing their taxes. If you have moved in the past year or were enrolled in higher education, there may be some special benefits that could be used to get a higher return. Documents noting these expenses should be brought to the tax professional. IRA contributions, child care expenses, or interest from student loans are other areas where a deduction could be made. When in doubt, you should bring the receipt or document and rely on the tax professional’s knowledge of tax codes to see if it can lower the amount of taxes that need to be paid or increase the refund total.

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