PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Suggested tips on preparing for your appointment

Below is a list of documents which may be needed to complete your tax return

Required documents to keep on file:

  • Copies of Drivers License or State IDs
  • Social Security Cards
  • Proof of Residence for dependents claiming EIC

Income documents:

  • Income from jobs: forms W-2 for you and your spouse
  • Investment income—various forms 1099 (-INT, -DIV, -B, etc.), K-1s, stock option information
  • Income from state and local income tax refunds and/or unemployment: forms 1099-G
  • Taxable alimony received
  • Business or farming income—profit/loss statement, capital equipment information
  • If you use your home for business—home size, office size, home expenses, office expenses
  • IRA/pension distributions—forms 1099-R, 8606
  • Rental property income/expense—profit/Loss statement, rental property suspended loss information
  • Social Security benefits—forms SSA-1099
  • Income from sales of property—original cost and cost of improvements, escrow closing statement, cancelled debt information (form 1099-C)
  • Prior year installment sale information—forms 6252, principal and Interest collected during the year, SSN and address of payer
  • Other miscellaneous income—jury duty, gambling winnings, Medical Savings Account (MSA), scholarships, etc.

How can I check on my tax refunds? Tax Related Web-sites/phone numbers: IRS www.irs.gov IRS Get Refund Status IRS Inquiry Phone: (800) 829-1040

Other tax documents:

  • IRA contributions
  • Energy credits
  • Student loan interest
  • Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions
  • Self-employed health insurance payments
  • Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE and other self-employed pension plans
  • Alimony paid that is tax dedcutible
  • Educator expenses
  • State and local income taxes paid
  • Real estate taxes paid
  • Personal property taxes—vehicle license fee based on value
  • Estimated tax payment made during the year, prior year refund applied to current year, and any amount paid with an extension to file.
  • Direct deposit information—routing and account numbers
  • Foreign bank account information—location, name of bank, account number, peak value of account during the year

Tax deduction documents:

  • Advance Child Tax Credit payment
  • Child care costs—provider’s name, address, tax id, and amount paid
  • Education costs—forms 1098-T, education expenses
  • Adoption costs—SSN of child, legal, medical, and transportation costs
  • Home mortgage interest and points you paid—Forms 1098
  • Investment interest expense
  • Charitable donations—cash amounts and value of donated property, miles driven, and out-of-pocket expenses
  • Casualty and theft losses—amount of damage, insurance reimbursements
  • Other miscellaneous tax deductions—union dues, unreimbursed employee expenses (uniforms, supplies, seminars, continuing education, publications, travel, etc.)  (for tax years prior to 2018 only)
  • Medical and dental expenses

DO I HAVE TO FILE A RETURN?

Requirements

This is a guideline only and your situation may present a different circumstance.
Please Note: If you received the advance Premium Tax Credit for your health insurance through a health insurance exchange (aka "Obamacare"), then you MUST file a return for 2020 regardless of your income. Failure to do so will result in non-eligibility for future Premium Tax Credits.

Click on any filing to find out the requirements for filing a federal tax return.

CURRENT TAX RATES

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KEEPING TAX RECORDS

Retention times for various tax records

IF YOU'RE IN DOUBT, DON'T THROW IT OUT

Federal law requires you to maintain copies of your tax returns and supporting documents for three years. This is called the “three-year law” and leads many people to believe they're safe provided they retain their documents for this period of time. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned and converted to a digital format. Once the documents are in electronic form, taxpayers can download them to a backup storage device, such as an external hard drive, or burn them onto a CD or DVD (don't forget to label it). Create a Backup Set of Records and Store Them Electronically. Keeping a backup set of records — including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. — is easier than ever now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. You might also consider online backup, which is the only way to ensure that data is fully protected. With online backup, files are stored in another region of the country, so that if a hurricane or other natural disaster occurs, documents remain safe.

Caution: Identity theft is a serious threat in today's world, and it is important to take every precaution to avoid it. After it is no longer necessary to retain your tax records, financial statements, or any other documents with your personal information, you should dispose of these records by shredding them and not disposing of them by merely throwing them away in the trash.

If the IRS believes you have significantly underreported your income (by 25 percent or more), or believes there may be indication of fraud, it may go back six years in an audit. To be safe, use the following guidelines.

Business Documents To Keep For One Year

  • Correspondence with Customers and Vendors
  • Duplicate Deposit Slips
  • Purchase Orders (other than Purchasing Department copy)
  • Receiving Sheets
  • Requisitions
  • Stenographer's Notebooks
  • Stockroom Withdrawal Forms

Business Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Employee Personnel Records (after termination)
  • Employment Applications
  • Expired Insurance Policies
  • General Correspondence
  • Internal Audit Reports
  • Internal Reports
  • Petty Cash Vouchers
  • Physical Inventory Tags
  • Savings Bond Registration Records of Employees
  • Time Cards For Hourly Employees

Business Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Accident Reports, Claims
  • Accounts Payable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Accounts Receivable Ledgers and Schedules
  • Bank Statements and Reconciliations
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Cancelled Stock and Bond Certificates
  • Employment Tax Records
  • Expense Analysis and Expense Distribution Schedules
  • Expired Contracts, Leases
  • Expired Option Records
  • Inventories of Products, Materials, Supplies
  • Invoices to Customers
  • Notes Receivable Ledgers, Schedules
  • Payroll Records and Summaries, including payment to pensioners
  • Plant Cost Ledgers
  • Purchasing Department Copies of Purchase Orders
  • Sales Records
  • Subsidiary Ledgers
  • Time Books
  • Travel and Entertainment Records
  • Vouchers for Payments to Vendors, Employees, etc.
  • Voucher Register, Schedules

Special Circumstances

  • Car Records (keep until the car is sold)
  • Credit Card Receipts (keep with your credit card statement)
  • Insurance Policies (keep for the life of the policy)
  • Mortgages / Deeds / Leases (keep 6 years beyond the agreement)
  • Pay Stubs (keep until reconciled with your W-2)
  • Property Records / improvement receipts (keep until property sold)
  • Sales Receipts (keep for life of the warranty)
  • Stock and Bond Records (keep for 6 years beyond selling)
  • Warranties and Instructions (keep for the life of the product)
  • Other Bills (keep until payment is verified on the next bill)
  • Depreciation Schedules and Other Capital Asset Records (keep for 3 years after the tax life of the asset)

Personal Documents To Keep For One Year

  • Bank Statements
  • Paycheck Stubs (reconcile with W-2)
  • Canceled checks
  • Monthly and quarterly mutual fund and retirement contribution statements (reconcile with year end statement)

Personal Documents To Keep For Three Years

  • Credit Card Statements
  • Medical Bills (in case of insurance disputes) 
  • Utility Records
  • Expired Insurance Policies 

Personal Documents To Keep For Six Years

  • Supporting Documents For Tax Returns
  • Accident Reports and Claims
  • Medical Bills (if tax-related)
  • Property Records / Improvement Receipts
  • Sales Receipts
  • Wage Garnishments
  • Other Tax-Related Bills

Personal Records To Keep Forever

  • CPA Audit Reports
  • Legal Records
  • Important Correspondence
  • Income Tax Returns
  • Income Tax Payment Checks
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • Retirement and Pension Records

Business Records To Keep Forever While federal guidelines do not require you to keep tax records “forever,” in many cases there will be other reasons you'll want to retain these documents indefinitely.

  • Audit Reports from CPAs/Accountants
  • Cancelled Checks for Important Payments (especially tax payments)
  • Cash Books, Charts of Accounts
  • Contracts, Leases Currently in Effect
  • Corporate Documents (incorporation, charter, by-laws, etc.)
  • Documents substantiating fixed asset additions
  • Deeds
  • Depreciation Schedules
  • Financial Statements (Year End)
  • General and Private Ledgers, Year End Trial Balances
  • Insurance Records, Current Accident Reports, Claims, Policies
  • Investment Trade Confirmations
  • IRS Revenue Agents' Reports
  • Journals
  • Legal Records, Correspondence and Other Important Matters
  • Minute Books of Directors and Stockholders
  • Mortgages, Bills of Sale
  • Property Appraisals by Outside Appraisers
  • Property Records
  • Retirement and Pension Records
  • Tax Returns and Worksheets
  • Trademark and Patent Registrations