What to bring

Basically, you need to bring identification, income documents (W-2 and 1099 forms), and expense documents.

The IRS and state tax agencies are increasingly cracking down on people who claim the same dependent more than once, such as estranged parents both claiming the same child. Tax preparers increasingly will ask that you provide Social Security cards for yourself and for each dependent. This helps eliminate electronic filing errors by making sure the name and Social Security Number matches the IRS records for each person on the tax return.

You also need to bring documents to show all your income for the year. These documents may include:

  • W-2s from your employers,
  • 1099-MISC forms for self-employment income,
  • 1099-INT (interest) and 1099-DIV (dividends) forms,
  • 1099-B forms showing brokerage trades in stocks and bonds,
  • K-1 forms for income from a partnership, small business, or trust,
  • 1099-SSA form showing Social Security received.

Be sure to bring written documents for additional income not reported on a W-2 or 1099 form, such as other self-employment income, rental income, or alimony. This could be a spreadsheet, bank statements, or other written evidence.

Bring canceled checks, receipts, or spreadsheets for any tax-related expenses. This may include contributions to your traditional or SEP-IRA, moving expenses, college expenses, medical and dental expenses, real estate taxes, gifts to charities and churches, and daycare or childcare costs. Some expenses are reported to you. Mortgage interest, for example, is reported to you on form 1098, and student loan interest is reported on form 1098-E.

If you paid estimated taxes, bring a summary of your federal and state estimated payments and canceled checks.
 
If you don’t have all your documents, your tax accountant will be able to help you track down the missing information.

If You Are Missing a W-2 Form

You can ask your employer to send new a copy of your W-2. Some employers charge a nominal fee for this service. Employers are required by law to keep copies of your W-2s and other payroll information for at least four years.

If You Are Missing a 1099 Form

Form 1099 reports interest, dividends, brokerage trades, and self-employment income.

Banks may have tax documents available for downloading from their web site, or you can call their customer service number to get a new 1099 mailed to you.

Your broker will be able to mail you a copy of your 1099 to report stock trading and other investment activity. Or you might be able to download a copy from the brokerage web site.

If you earned more than $600 as a consultant or independent contractor, your client is required to send you a 1099-MISC to report your income. Even if you didn't receive a 1099, you are still required to report the income to the IRS.

How to Obtain Copies of Your Tax Documents from the IRS

The IRS receives copies of all your tax documents. You can easily obtain copies of them by mail or fax.

You'll need to fill out Form 4506-T to request your income documents. This form is used to request transcripts of various tax documents. To request the income documents, check the box for line 8, "Form W-2, Form 1099 series, Form 1098 series, or Form 5498 series transcript."

The information will be mailed to you, and it will be a computer printout of the information contained on your various income documents. One word of caution: the IRS only retains the federal information on these forms. State and local information, such as state withholding amounts, will not show up on this transcript. After obtaining the transcript, you may want to contact the institutions shown on the transcript to obtain a copy of the original documents.

Your tax accountant is able to request these documents from the IRS for you as well, and the IRS can fax the documents to your accountant's office. If you need these documents immediately, this will likely be the fastest way to obtain your income information.

The IRS keeps your tax documents in their database for about four years, and up to ten years of documents might exist in their archives.

BRING THESE TO MAXIMIZE YOUR REFUND:

2 sets of photo identification
Alimony
Social Security cards for yourself
Contributions to your traditional or SEP-
Social Security cards for your dependants
IRA
W-2s
Expense receipts
1099-MISC
Moving expenses
1099-INT
College expenses
1099-DIV
Medical and dental expenses
1099-B
Real Estate taxes
K-1 forms
Gifts to charities and churches
1099-SSA
Daycare or childcare costs
Self-employment income
Mortgage interest on form 1098
Rental income
Student loan interest on form 1098-E

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