If you’ve ever worked on your taxes before, you’ll know that one of the most critical first steps to getting favorable results is to get your paperwork organized. A lack of organization is one of the biggest reasons why people tend to struggle with their tax returns. If you are getting ready to do your taxes, simply make sure to organize the following documents, and you will find a lot of the stress of doing your taxes will quickly disappear, not to mention the efficiency and speed with which you are likely to get through the task:
1. Most Recent US Individual Income Tax Return, form 1040
2. Copies of last 3 months bank statements
3. Copies of your last 4 consecutive pay stubs/pay checks
4. Food and Personal Care Records
5. Housing and utility Records
* Copy of mortgage statement with the payoff balance. Copies of rent checks
* Letter of home equity loan denial/approval (with amount awarded) from lender.
* Utility Bills
* Gas/Maintenance Receipts
* Copy of loan statement for vehicle
* Health Insurance
* Out-of-pocket medical costs
* Taxes paid
* Childcare/child support
* Life Insurance
* Mandatory Employer withdrawls
* Court ordered payments
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your financial situation and feel that you need a little guidance, this page is here to lend you a helping hand.
The first step in organizing your finances is to understand which information is going to be needed in order to complete your tax return correctly. The items listed here indicate the documents that are relevant for your taxes, either as taxable items or qualified deductions that can be used to reduce the amount you owe to the IRS/State. Organizing this information properly will save you time and money. Whether you are doing your own taxes or have hired a professional, sorting this information properly and accurately need be the first order of business.
To make next year’s tax return easier, note the experiences and difficulties you experience this time around, so that you could alleviate the difficult steps next year. It’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I have a difficult time locating any documents?
- What would have made the process easier?
- What do I need to include/remove for next year?
- How much time did I spend filing my taxes?
- What can I do better for next year?
- How can I better organize my record keeping?