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Tax Documents Needed to File

Tax Document Checklist: What to Gather Before Doing Your Taxes

Tax time doesn't exactly send a thrill down our spines, but it is what it is. Get it over and done by taking the first step: gathering your documents. Wise Bread gives a helpful guide on what you need.

It's that time of year again, and you may start feeling overwhelmed when you think about getting your paperwork together and calculating your income tax payment or refund. Tax season can cause anxiety for even the most relaxed people! Steady your nerves with this checklist to help you prepare for filing your taxes and go into everybody's least favorite season with an organized plan of attack.

RELATED: 15 Surprising Facts About Income Tax

Gather Personal Information

You need several documents to get started.

  • Social Security number
  • Spouse's and/or dependents' Social Security numbers
  • Last year's tax return

Read on for more.

Gather Financial Information

As you get ready to file your income taxes, take some time to locate the following documents. If you're like me, they're not already in an organized filing cabinet where they really should be!

  • Employment W-2s
  • Income statements for self-employment or business, including MISC-1099s and Schedule K-1s
  • Information for any taxes you have paid during the tax year (estimated tax payments, property tax, sales tax)
  • Mortgage interest statement if you own a house
  • College tuition statements, student loan interest, education expenses (if you are a college student)
  • Retirement account contributions or distribution documents
  • Charitable donations made throughout the year
  • Medical expense statements and receipts, medical savings account contributions
  • Job-search expenses or moving-related expenses
  • 1099-C forms, if you canceled any debt during the year
  • Investment forms for dividends or interest income earned
  • Record of alimony received
  • Health insurance payments (if self-employed)
  • Energy-efficient home improvement records and receipts
  • Child-care records, if you have children and pay for day care or babysitters so you can work

Gather Home Business Information

If you run a business out of your home, you're going to need additional information to complete your taxes.

  • Records for income
  • Office and supply expenses
  • Utility expenses
  • Total square footage of your home
  • Square footage of your office space or supply storage (so you can deduct a percentage of your utility bill, rent or mortgage, etc.)
  • Car mileage or expense records if you use your vehicle for business

File Your Taxes

Once you have all of the necessary documents in an organized pile, you will find it much easier to file your taxes, whether you do them by hand or use tax preparation software to help. Even if you enlist the service of a professional tax preparer, having everything you need in hand, before you schedule your appointment, will make the entire process easier — and a lot less stressful.

Check out these smart Wise Bread stories:

Surprise! 5 Reasons You Might Not Get Your Tax Refund

What If I Skip My Taxes This Year?

Surprising Charitable Tax Deductions

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