Whether you are anxious to receive the largest possible tax refund or you want to reduce your tax liability, a tax consultant can help. To avoid scrambling to meet the federal tax filing deadline, organization is key. Our tax experts at Geaux Tax Resolution in Lafayette, LA make the process as efficient and easy for you as possible. Here there are five steps you should take to prepare for tax season.
5 Ways to Prepare for Tax Season
1. Schedule Your Consultation Now
The earlier you schedule your complimentary consultation, the more relaxed you will be. When less frazzled you are, the more likely your tax consultant is to get all relevant information out of you to help you save as much money as possible.
2. Gather All Necessary Documents
Regardless of when you schedule your appointment, coming in with all necessary documentation is crucial. If you only come in with bits and pieces of information, we can’t help you file your taxes. The documentation you will need depends on several factors, including life events that happened in the 2019 tax year and how you are filing. You may need documentation related to:
- Natural disaster
- Charitable contributions
- Vehicle expenses
3. Organize All Necessary Documents
We often have clients come in with a shoebox full of receipts and income-related tax forms. It’s great to have this information. However, your appointment with your tax consultant will go much smoother if you organize all of your documents. We recommend that you first sort all of your documents by type. Reference the above list for an idea of how to sort your documents.
You may scramble to find and organize everything this year. We strongly recommend that you figure out an organizational system that works for you and stick to it. Whenever you get a document for the 2020 tax year, file it in a clearly labeled folder, so you are prepared for next year’s appointment. Many of our clients color-code their folders from year to year.
4. Gather Any Missing Documentation
If you weren’t organized throughout the year, you might be missing some necessary documentation—that’s ok! Here is a comprehensive list of documents we may need depending on your unique situation:
Before you come in for your appointment, make sure you have all personal information for you (and your spouse if applicable). We will need full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. Moreover, we will need a copy of last year’s return, information on any foreign accounts, and primary bank account information if you file electronically.
Information on Dependents
If you have any dependents, we need their full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. We also need, if applicable, childcare receipts. These receipts should include the name, address, federal employer identification number (FEIN), and how much you paid for the calendar year.
Many clients only need to provide their W-2 form, which indicates the wages earned and taxes paid. This statement comes from an employer. If you are divorced and received or paid alimony, we need documentation related to that. If you earned interest, your bank, credit union, or investment broker will send you a Form 1099-INT for earned interest income.
If you owned stocks that paid dividends last year, we need Form 1099-DIV for Dividends and Distributions. If you received Social Security benefits, we need Form SSA-1099. If you sold real estate, we need Form 1099-S. If you were a member of a partnership and earned income from that, we need Schedule K-1. Rarer forms we may need are:
- Gambling winnings
- Jury duty earnings
- Sale of property excluding real estate
- Form 1099-B: Proceeds from broker and barter exchange
Retirement Income and Contributions
You may have noticed that we excluded retirement income from the list of income documentation we need. Certain types of retirement income are taxable. However, it makes sense to include them with retirement contributions while you’re organizing your documents. Before you come in, make sure you have documentation regarding any IRA contributions you made in the past year.
This includes both Roth IRA contributions and traditional IRA contributions. However, each has a different tax implication. We also need Form 1099-R: Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc. Finally, if applicable, we need Form RRB-1099 (proceeds from U.S. Railroad Retirement Board).
Business Income and Expenses
If you have business income and expenses, we need Form 1099. If you acted as an independent contractor, rather than a business owner, we need Form 1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income. If you received distributions from an HSA, Archer Medical Savings Account, or Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Account, we need Form 1099-SA.
We need records for all income that cannot be categorized as 1099 income. We need an income (profit and loss) statement. Be sure to bring inventory records, records for any depreciable assets, and income and expenses related to rental property. Moreover, bring in all documentation related to health insurance premiums and estimated tax payments.
If you or a dependent child received secondary or post-secondary education, we need Form 1098-T: Tuition Statement and Form 1098-E: Student Loan Interest Statement if you paid interest on student loans. Bring in any scholarship or fellowship records and records of educational expenses, other than tuition, that you paid out of pocket.
If you made qualified energy-efficient improvements to your home, we need records of that. Moreover, we need documentation about the property taxes you paid on real estate and personal property (like a car or boat).
We need a mileage log for your vehicle, including the starting and ending mileage. We also need all expenses paid related to commute, such as parking fees and toll fees.
Other Deductions and Credits
We need to know about contributions to a Medical Savings Account, disaster-related expenses, moving expenses, and investment interest expenses.
We also need to know about charitable contributions, including receipts, property value at the time of the donation, and other applicable expenses related to charitable giving.
Moreover, bring in documentation related to casualty and theft losses and any subsequent insurance reimbursement. If you had adoption expenses, we need the Social Security number, legal records, and associated expenses and any transportation or medical expenses paid. Finally, bring in any documentation concerning out-of-pocket medical expenses.
5. Bring Government Identification Documents
Before you arrive for your consultation, make sure you have copies of Social Security cards for everyone you are listing on your tax return. If applicable, you must provide a government-issued picture ID for you and your spouse. This is due to enhanced cybersecurity protocols and is not likely to change in the future.
Geaux Tax Resolution—Your Tax Consultant
Does tax season have you pulling your hair out in frustration? Do you find yourself beside yourself with worry, biting your nails in anxiety? Don’t panic. Contact Geaux Tax Resolution in Lafayette, LA today to schedule a free consultation. Whatever your tax woes, we will have them sorted in a jiffy.
Our tax consultants have decades of experience sorting out all sorts of tax concerns. Many of them were IRS agents and, therefore, have a deeply intimate knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code. Use their knowledge to your advantage and stop worrying this tax season.