One of the nice things about working with a tax pro is the organization that he or she can offer you. That organization includes a few nifty things:
That column with last year’s information is a valuable tool. It can help determine if you have included all the same sources of income and tax deductions (banks, employers, mortgage companies, etc.). Typically, when your amounts are significantly different, something has been omitted.
For instance, if your interest income is half of last year’s, perhaps you are missing a 1099-INT from one of your banks. After all, banks change names or ownership very often. Of course, this also could mean that one of your higher-paying CDs matured earlier in the year—and you had to reinvest it for 1 percent or less.
Similarly, when mortgage interest appears far too low, it might be a red flag that you are missing a mortgage statement. On the other hand, you might have been lucky enough to refinance that 6 percent loan and snag a 3.5 percent rate.
Your tax pro will help analyze the changes in your income and expenses to ensure everything is included when you’re filing taxes for the current year.
What should you be sure to bring when filing taxes?
Every W-2 you have received.
Every 1099 you received from your banks and brokerages.
Every 1099-B from your investments showing the sales of securities. Generally overlooked is the purchase information, which you can usually get from your broker.
Every 1098 you receive from your lenders.
Your property tax statement for both installments during the year.
Copies of the cancelled checks for your estimated tax payments for all four quarters for 2011 or a list of the amounts paid and the dates they were paid.
Your fourth quarter estimated state tax payment for 2010, if it was made in January 2011. That might be deductible this year.
The HUD-1 statement or the equivalent if you sold any property.
These are some of the basic documents you should be bringing with you. Naturally, if you are unsure if an item is deductible, bring along all of the information you have so that your tax pro can figure it out.
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Organize Your Paperwork Before Filing Taxes
Filing Taxes: Smart Things to Do with Your Tax Refund
Make a Game Out of Filing Taxes
Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com , where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including the new edition of Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com and tax courses you might enjoy at http://www.cpelink.com/teamtaxmama.
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