For some people filing taxes is a breeze, and for others quite a torture. All depends on complexity of your income and expenses and how well you are organized when tax time rolls around.
The bare minimum required to file taxes:
- W2 Form – it details how much you earned and how much was withheld in taxes throughout the calendar year
- Information about health insurance; if you purchased insurance through insurance exchange you should receive Form 1095A detailing your premium and the subsidy amount.
Besides that you need your social security number and date of birth, including dependents, if necessary. In theory one can file taxes with a W2 only or even a copy of the last pay stub. This would only apply to the simplest life situations i.e. regular employment, standard deductions, and no income from independent work.
The more complex your income or personal situation, the more documentation is required. Here’s what else you might expect to have ready to get though the entire process:
- 1099-G for unemployment income
- 1099-S for sale of property
- 1098 for mortgage interest
- details of alimony received or paid
- for students: 1098-E for interest paid on student loans or 1098-T for tuition payment
- 1099-MISC for any income earned as an independent contractor
- SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received
- Profit loss statement for rental property income
- Different forms of investment income: 1099-INT/DIV/B/K1
- Gambling winnings
- 1099-C for cancelled debt
For many income and expenses there are no forms and if you report them you need to have receipts. Those life events include:
- making charitable donations
- car mileage for volunteering events
- moving expenses (new job)
- healthcare related costs
- home office expenses
- bank account and routing number is you select to get a refund via direct deposit
- copies of last year tax return
This should be a good starting point and cover many tax situations. Don’t postpone filing taxes until the last moment, as you may need few other documents to complete your tax return. It is especially important if the additional paperwork can contribute to a larger refund or lower overall tax liability.