Even if your tax
situation isn't complicated, there's still documentation
the Internal Revenue Service demands. But tax filing
doesn't have to be an ordeal. And it can be less frustrating
and less time-consuming if you have all the material
at your fingertips.
By being prepared, you'll be ready
to file your return at the earliest possible moment
(the IRS usually starts accepting returns around mid-January).
And the earlier you file, the sooner you'll get your
Much of the paperwork you'll need
to fill out your Form
1040 will tell the IRS how much money you made so
they can tax it. But there also is information that
will help you trim your tax bill.
To help you organize your tax paperwork,
here are some of the most common documents you'll need.
File by the
The IRS tracks every taxpayer through a Social Security
number. For those of you who file your own returns,
this isn't a problem. But if you drop all your data
off at your accountant's office, make sure that your
Social Security number is in there, as well as your
spouse's if you file jointly.
Do you have any dependents -- children,
parents -- that you'll be claiming? Then you'll need
those numbers, too. This includes everyone, even infants.
If your kids don't have their numbers yet, contact the
Social Security Administration immediately. A missing
Social Security number for any person listed on
your return could cost you.
The IRS could delay the processing
of your return, slow down any refund, or even disallow
a credit if you don't have the identification numbers
to support it.
And don't forget the tax identification
number of the person or business that takes care of
the kids while you're at work. You'll need it if you
file for the child care credit. You should receive a
statement from the care provider that includes his or
her tax ID number, as well as the amount you paid, so
you can use it to claim the credit.
It is called
Since it's our income that the taxman wants a piece
of, start thinking about the employment and income data
you'll need to file.
By the end of January, employees
should get a Form W-2 from the boss showing how much
was earned, how much is taxable and just what taxes
were withheld. If you have more than one job, you should
get a Form W-2 from each employer.
You say you're still waiting for
your W-2? The IRS has a substitute
form you can use in its place. You'll need last
year's final pay stub for data to enter on the alternate
W-2. And even if you have your official tax form, check
it against that last pay stub to make sure the W-2 data
If you're an independent contractor,
the company you worked for should send you a Form
1099-MISC showing your gross earnings.