WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR APPOINTMENT
Regular customers have been through our process before and may have a pretty good idea about what we will need to get your tax return completed quickly and accurately. But regardless of whether you are a new or returning client you still may be confused about which documents to gather for your tax appointment. That’s why we have created this list to help you put your documents together, to make sure your appointment goes smoothly.
Many of the needed documents may trickle into your mailbox one by one. So we recommend that you establish a folder in a central location to accumulate tax documents until they all arrive and you are ready for your tax appointment. As always, please give us a call at 205-624-4600 if you have any questions.
- Copies of social security cards for everyone who is to be listed on the tax return as well as a government issued picture ID (such as a driver license) for the taxpayer and spouse. Due to enhanced cyber security protocols, beginning in 2017 many states are implementing requirements for government issued picture ID data to be included in electronically filed tax return data. Most states do not yet require government issued picture ID data but we anticipate that this may become a requirement nationwide in the future. We encourage everyone to provide a government issued picture ID even if not required by your state to file a tax return.
- Original copies of all forms W-2 (and form 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC if you have self-employment income). Please schedule your tax appointment for after you have received these documents. Typically these documents will arrive by the first week of February each year. We cannot file your return using the last paystub of the year until you have exhausted all reasonable means of obtaining the W-2 form. Please give us a call if you have difficulty obtaining these documents and we can assist you in following the proper procedures to replace missing documents.
- Interest and dividend statements from your financial custodians such as banks, mutual fund companies, insurance companies etc. These will be labeled 1099-INT or 1099-DIV.
- If you sold stocks or mutual funds during the year your should receive a 1099-B which reports the gross proceeds from the sale. The IRS has implemented rules which will also require the issuer to report your basis (the amount you originally paid for the stocks or mutual funds) so that you can more easily calculate the tax due on the sale of your securities.
- If you receive retirement income you should receive a separate form 1099-R from each payer of retirement income. This document is similar in function to the form W-2. If you completed a tax free rollover of a retirement account you may still need the 1099-R to complete your return properly.
- Social Security recipients will need the form 1099-SSA from the Social Security Administration. This document is usually mailed to you in January. You may click here to go to the ssa.gov website if you need a replacement 1099-SSA.
- Unemployment compensation benefits are usually taxable. You should receive a form 1099-G which functions similarly to the form W-2.
- Your mortgage lender must supply you with form 1098 to document the amount of potentially deductible mortgage interest paid during the year. Many financial institutions now allow you to login to their website and print your own 1098. This can be especially handy if you have misplaced the original.
- Please let us know if you have recently purchased a home or refinanced your mortgage as there may be tax benefits available for you from this transaction. Your lender should have provided you with a copy of form HUD-1 at or before the closing. This document details the expenses paid at closing. Please bring this document to the tax appointment. Your closing attorney may be able to provide you with a copy of this document if you have misplaced the original. But be careful, they may charge you a fee to provide a copy.
- Students who have paid tuition to qualified institutions of higher learning should receive a form 1098-T that documents the amount of tuition paid. This document typically is addressed to the student and is now mandatory in order to claim education credits on your tax return. Be sure to check with your child to obtain this document if you are claiming that child as a dependent. Many schools also have this document available online when you log in to their website. If available your student should also request the detailed list of transactions used to generate your 1098-T, this list shows the dates and amounts of each tuition transaction and will be useful in properly completing your tax return.
- Many taxes you pay can be deductible. You will want to have the paid receipt for all property and real estate taxes. Taxes must be paid before the end of the year to be deductible on the current year return. Otherwise you may deduct them on the following year’s return. Sales taxes paid may also be deductible. If you have paid sales tax on a major purchase such as an automobile or boat be sure to let us know about it so we can calculate any deduction available to you.
- If we did not prepare your return last year it is always helpful to have a copy of the previous year return. If you are a returning client we retain copies of your tax return.
- Receipts for all charitable contributions will be needed. Cancelled checks can be used to document charitable contributions of $250 and less, otherwise you generally need some sort of statement from the charity indicating the details of your contribution.
- Medical expenses can be deductible if you have a sufficient amount of out of pocket expenses. You may not wish to share your medical history with your tax preparer, therefore we recommend that you create a one page document, such as a spreadsheet, that summarizes your medical expenses. Most pharmacies will also provide you with a printout of your prescriptions for the year.
- Many taxpayers are unable to deduct medical expenses because they simply do not have sufficient expenses to meet the 7.5% (10% starting in 2013) of Adjusted Gross Income threshold. Before you spend a lot of time gathering medical documents you may want to give us a quick telephone call to see if you are in the ballpark for being eligible to deduct these expenses.
- If you have negotiated a settlement with your credit card company or other lender to pay less than the full amount owed on a debt, or if you have had a foreclosure on mortgaged property, the lender may send you a form 1099-C or 1099-A. The amounts included on these documents may be taxable income that must be reported on your tax return. However, exceptions may apply which allow you to avoid paying taxes on the amounts reported on these documents. Please make sure your provide us with a copy of any 1099-C or 1099-A issued to you so that we can help you determine if these amounts are taxable.
- Those who need to file tax returns for deceased persons will need to provide a copy of the death certificate and an appointment certificate from the appropriate local authority designating you as personal representative (or similar designation) of the deceased . In South Carolina this function is usually administered by the county Probate Court. If you are a surviving spouse the requirements are a little more relaxed. You usually do not need to provide the probate appointment documentation in order to file the tax return but you will still need the death certificate.
- If you purchased health insurance through a state for federal marketplace vendor, you may receive form 1095-A to substantiate your health coverage. Please share this form with your tax preparer if you receive it. Please let us know if you think you should have received a 1095-A but for some reason did not. Beginning in tax year 2015 all health insurance providers will provide you with a a form 1095-B or 1095-C. While these two forms are not required, they may be helpful in completing your tax return. If you have them provide them to your preparer but you don’t have to wait for them before you begin preparing your tax return.