For Best Tax Prep Results, Follow These Helpful Hints...
If we have prepared your return in prior years, all of that information is on file. Please browse through the checklist below and make sure that you have all of the following with you so that your tax return can be completed as efficiently and accurately as possible. Here is what I need:
If I have not prepared your return the previous year, complete items (1) and (2) below
1) The New Client Worksheet. This provides me with everyone's name, SSN's, birthdates, adresses, etc.
2) If we have not done your return before AND you file a schedule A, C, D or E, a copy of last year's return with all worksheets attached. Also bring all the worksheets (especially the depreciation worksheets if you have any) so that items which carry forward from year to year may be correctly transferred.
3) The Annual Client Worksheet. Everyone needs to complete this form, every year. This form covers the most common tax issues I need to know about. Two pages total (front and back).
Income (or lack thereof...)
1) All of your W-2's from all your employers. If you don't have a copy, ask your employer to fax it directly to us at (510) 583-0555. If they are unwilling or unavailable, we may use your last pay stub as a source of information but not until after February 15th. The IRS does not permit filing without W'2s until that time.
$ Credits $
List the following credit items on the Annual Client Worksheet (Items 4,5, 8)
1) If you paid child care expenses, list the amounts you paid for each child, and the name, address, and SSN (or TIN) of the person(s) or organization(s) whom you paid for services.
$ Deductions $
For those taxpayers who itemize - USUALLY Homeowners with a mortgage
2) All of your W-2G's as well. Sorry, but gambling winnings and bingo jackpots are considered taxable income!
3) All of your 1099's EXCEPT 1099-M's with Box 7 income. Bring all your 1099-G (prior year state tax refund and unemployment benefits), 1099-DIV (dividends), 1099-I (bank account interest), 1099-M Box 2 or 3 (royalties or other income), 1099-R (pensions) and 1099-SSA (Social Security) forms. Do NOT fax or e-mail me any 1099-M forms with box 7 income. That income will be reported on the business income and expense worksheet. Bring them to your tax appointment, but don't send them to me ahead of time. I don't need them.
4) All of your K-1's from limited partnerships. These forms are often not issued until March (or later). If you don't have them, send me everything else, we'll file an extension (no charge), and complete the return when they arrive.
5) If you are self-employed (run your own business or receive a 1099-M with Box 7 income), complete an income and expense statement (click here for the worksheet). If you use part of your home for meeting clients or office space, complete a home office statement (click here for the worksheet).
Do NOT bring me any receipts, I don't need them. My job is to complete an accurate tax return based on information you provide to me. I'm not here to audit you. If something seems unusual, we will discuss it.
6) If you own rental property, complete an income and expense statement for each property (click here for the worksheet). A multi-unit property (duplex, triplex) counts as one property.
7) If you sold stock during the year, send me a statement of realized gains and losses from the brokerage. If they cannot provide this form to you, I will need to know the (a) date purchased (b) purchase price (c) date sold and
(d) sales price of each stock sold. List the total purchase and total sales price, not the price per share. If you only purchased stock, there is no reportable transaction until it is sold.
2) If you paid college expenses (to an accredited college or university - not a trade school) bring your form 1098-T (issued by the school) and the total amounts you paid for books during the year. Some schools try to save money by not mailing the form, but you can usually download it from their web site. The credit is only for tuition and books - not for meals, parking, room and board, or other supplies.
3) If you made an improvement to your primary residence for the purpose of reducing utility bills, bring a description of the improvement, the cost, and the date completed. Appliances that are NOT a permanent addition to a house (refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc) do not qualify for this credit. Some items that would qualify - exterior windows and doors, tankless water heaters, and new furnaces or A/C units.
1) All of your form 1098's (mortgage interest statements). If you have multiple properties, make sure the property address is on the form. Sometimes it is not.
2) If you refinanced your property, bring the HUD-1 statement.
3) If you paid someone else to prepare your taxes last year, bring the amount paid.
4) If you owed state taxes last year, bring the amount you paid.
5) If you had significant unreimbursed job expenses as a W-2 employee, complete the unreimbursed employee expense worksheet (click here for the form). If you used space in your home for your W-2 job, complete a home office expense worksheet (click here for the form). Please note that clothing is NOT a deduction unless it serves a safety or protective purpose. Steel-toed shoes would qualify, but your nice white dress shirt for meeting clients does not.
6) If you suffered a SIGNIFICANT unreimbursed loss from fire, theft, or nature, bring a description of the loss, the date, and the amount. The loss must exceed 10% of your income.
7) If you have investment expenses (safe deposit boxes, newsletter subscriptions), bring the amounts paid.
8) All other common deductions - medical expenses, sales taxes, DMV fees, property taxes, and charity donations - are covered on the Annual Client Worksheet (item 3 at the top of this page). FYI item - Please note that one of the provisions of Obamacare is to reduce the deduction for medical expenses - if you qualified for this deduction in past years, you may not qualify this year.
OK, you've assembled all the information you need and it's ready to go. Now what?
Send me everything listed by whatever means works best for you (fax, e-mail, drop off, carrier pigeon, etc). If you need to send me last year's return and it's large, consider using e-mail, mailing it or dropping it off - I don't want a 40-page fax when I really just need the 2 or 3 pages that are carryforward items. Contact information is listed here. You can do any of these 24/7, there is no need to call ahead. I will contact you within 48 hours to schedule an appointment and let you know if I need any other information before we meet. Since I do most of the work ahead of time, most appointments are 20 minutes (or less). Feel free to ask any questions before we meet or during your appointment. That's it. See you soon!