Do you have a tax prep checklist ready?

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I’m about to get started with my own tax returns, and even though it’s not the highlight moment for the year for me, it is an opportunity to organize my documents. I find it much easier to get through the tax season when I’m well prepared and organized. Having a list may not be as crucial for individuals who file a simple return and report income from one or two W-2 form. Once you start dealing with more complicated tax scenarios (multiple dependents, mortgage, various streams of revenue), it is necessary to have some guidance.

I typically put together my own tax prep checklist, but this year I found a really handy one on H&R Block’s website. There are two options: create your own or print the full list.

Printing a complete list provides a guideline for every potential document you may need. It is a good starting point to begin collecting documents whether you file on your own or see a tax professional. The three-page long list brings the attention and highlights all possible documents.

The other option is to create a list that’s crafted to your tax situation. This typically requires answering questions and may dissuade you from going that route. H&R Block mentions that it only takes 1 minute to create your tax filing checklist, to which I was a little skeptical. But they were right; it takes little time and it makes much more sense to go that way.

Putting together your own tax checklist works just like filing the return by answering questions about your situation. Here is a quick summary:

  • Q1 – Your marital status at the end of the year?
  • Q2 – Do you have any dependents?
  • Q3 – What were your sources of income in 2018?
    • W-2
    • Unemployment
    • Self-employment
    • Rental income
    • Retirement income
    • Savings, investment or dividends
    • Other income & losses
  • Q4 – Deductions that may apply to you in 2018 – select form the list

That is the last question. Once you finalize it, H&R Block crafts a list that is optimized for you. Even though the heavy lifting is only beginning, having a checklist provides a jumpstart to a tax season and ensures you don’t miss any important paperwork.

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