The Personal Tax Prep Checklist | Everything You Need to File Taxes

Be prepared this tax season with this personal tax prep checklist to help you organize your tax documents.

There are so many things to remember when filing personal taxes each year. You can itemize and customize your taxes in so many different ways. 

You also want to file taxes efficiently each year to make sure you are getting the best tax refund available to you. 

The best way to make sure none of these personal tax checklist items are forgotten when filing your personal taxes is to use one of our professional tax preparers at Check City. 

Check City's tax professionals have been professionally preparing taxes for over 30 years and can help any customer get the best tax outcome available to them. 

What Do I Need to File My Taxes? 

Basically, you'll want any personal and financial information you have available ready and nearby when you start filing your taxes. 

If you file with a tax professional at Check City, then you can call them to ask what you should bring in to do your taxes. The following lists are examples of some things you might need depending on your tax situation. 

Personal Information 

If you're filing taxes as a household and not as an individual, then you may also need the following information for your partner, any dependents you might have, and any other adults living in the household. 

  • Full Name (as seen on your social security card)
  • Social Security Number
  • Tax ID Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Identity Protection PIN 
  • Bank Account Number 
  • Bank Routing Number 

Tax Documents 

There are many tax documents that might be relevant to you depending on your situation. This is another reason why using a tax professional is a great idea because they'll be able to go through your necessary tax forms much quicker, making sure you get the tax refund you deserve. 

  • W2 tax form 
  • 1099 tax form 
  • 1098 tax form 

All Sources of Income 

  • Job Income 
  • Investment Income
  • State Income (like tax refunds or unemployment benefits)
  • Taxable Alimony Received 
  • Business Income 
  • Farming Income 
  • IRA
  • Pension Distribution Income 
  • Rental Property Income
  • Social Security Benefits 
  • Unemployment Benefits 
  • Sales Income 
  • Gambling Winnings 
  • Scholarships 
  • and more

Other Records 

  • Childcare Records 
  • Basic Information for Dependents 
  • Income Records for Dependents or Other Adults in the Household

Examples of Tax Deductions 

Tax deductions are expenses that might qualify you to pay less in taxes. For example, if you work from home and have to spend money on creating or maintaining your own home office, then those expenses might be tax-deductible. 

Here are a few other examples of possible tax deductions that might be available to you: 

  • For paying other income taxes 
  • For paying vehicle sales tax 
  • For contributing to an IRA 

Tax Deductions For Homeowners: 

  • Mortgage interest statements 
  • Real estate tax records 
  • Personal property tax records 
  • Energy-saving home improvement receipts
  • Energy-saving home receipts

Tax Deductions For Charitable Donations: 

  • Donated amounts
  • Records for non-cash donations 
  • Miles for charity work done 

Tax Deductions For Health and Medical Expenses: 

  • Records of medical, healthcare, and insurance costs 

Tax Deductions For Childcare Expenses: 

  • Childcare costs like daycare or babysitting 
  • Payments to a dependent care flexible account 

Tax Deductions For Educational Expenses: 

  • Complete form 1098-T for academic institutions 
  • Complete form 1098-E for paying student loan interest 
  • Records for qualified educational expenses 
  • Records for scholarships 
  • Records for fellowships 

Tax Deductions For Teacher Expenses: 

  • Records of classroom expenses 

Examples of Tax Credits 

Tax credits are when you qualify for credits from the IRS. Tax credits can help you get a bigger tax refund or help you owe less in taxes this year.

Here are just a few examples of tax credits that might be available to you: 

  • Recovery rebate credit
  • Credit for sick leave for self-employed individuals
  • Credit for family leave for self-employed individuals
  • American opportunity tax credit
  • Lifetime learning credit (LLC)
  • The saver’s credit
  • Foreign tax credit
  • Child tax credit (CTC)
  • Additional child tax credit (ACTC)
  • Credit for other dependents (ODC)
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • Adoption credit
  • Earned income tax credit (EITC)
  • Premium tax credit (PTC)
  • Health coverage tax credit (HCTC)
  • Credit for the elderly or the disabled
  • Residential energy efficient property credit
  • Nonbusiness energy property credit
  • Credit for electric plug-in vehicles
  • Credit for federal fuel taxes
  • Low-income housing credit
  • Credit for excess Social Security and RRTA tax withheld

This tax credit is meant to help low to moderate-income households by giving them a tax break. It can reduce the taxes you owe and increase the tax refund available to you. 

You can click "check if you qualify" on the IRS website to see if you qualify for this tax credit: IRS Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

Qualifying rules for EITC: 

  • Show proof of earned income
  • Have investment income below $3,650 in the tax year you claim the credit
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Claim a certain filing status 
  • Be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien all year
  • You could also qualify if you are a military member, clergy member, or have relatives with disabilities 

What is the CARES Act?

This act determines your stimulus money eligibility. In 2020, eligibility worked in the following manner: 

  • Eligible individuals can receive a tax credit of $1,200 and $500 per qualifying dependent if their income doesn't exceed: 
  • $75,000 a year for single filers
  • $150,000 a year for married filing-joint filers
  • $112,500 a year for head-of-household filers

Tax Relief Due to Recent Disaster Situations

If you have been a victim of a recent natural disaster like hurricanes or wildfires, you might be eligible for tax relief. By visiting the IRS website you can find the most recent tax reliefs available to victims of natural disasters.

Examples of Tax Exemptions 

Tax exemptions are qualifications that exempt certain people or organizations from taxes. They are qualifications that mean someone isn't liable to pay certain taxes. 

Tax exemption requirements include some of the following items:

Organizations that are organized and operated for exempt purposes, like nonprofit organizations and charities. 

Tax Exempt Organizations Include: 

  • Exempt organizations: 
  • Charitable organizations 
  • Churches and religious organizations 
  • Private foundations 
  • Political organizations 
  • Other nonprofit organizations 

How Do I File My Taxes?

Do you need help filing your taxes? You aren't alone. There's a reason tax professionals exist, to help us get our taxes sorted quickly and efficiently every year. 

You can start filing your taxes as early as January 1st each year. But the IRS might not start processing those filed taxes until a little later in the year. To figure out when you'll get your tax refund, be sure to visit our tax refund schedule chart for this year. 

Here are the basics steps you'll need to take to file taxes: 

Step 1: Gather necessary documents

Step 2: Use these documents to file taxes. Give documents to a professional tax service or file your taxes manually with the IRS.

The easiest and quickest way to file your taxes is to do it electronically. Filing through the mail is also possible but usually takes longer to process and longer for you to get your refund back. 

In Conclusion, 

Your local or state taxes will depend on your income and the income tax rate of your state. You can find state-specific tax filing information here.

Check City Tax Services can take care of both federal and state taxes for you! Check City will file your taxes electronically too, so your taxes can get filed and get refunded as quickly as possible.