H&R Block reminds taxpayers document organization eases tax prep

January 15, 2018 : Teresa L. Clark

 

Mailboxes are starting to fill up with the 2017 tax year documents needed to file an accurate tax return. No matter which tax preparation method they use, H&R Block clients can upload their tax documents onto the free MyBlock Mobile App to help them stay organized.

Missing tax documents can lead to missing out on tax benefits taxpayers are entitled to claim. Whether taxpayers are going to have a professional prepare their return or they plan to take the DIY route, having all their tax-related documents is critical for filing an accurate tax refund. Replacing, reprinting or recalculating a document can be done, but of course it’s much easier to keep up with the original.

Ready to start? Before the paperwork arrives, get these things in order

Even before financial reports and documents arrive, get a head start on the process by collecting things that also will be needed, but not found in a report. Knowing Social Security numbers and birthdates of everyone listed on the return – for example, self, spouse and dependents – is a good place to start. These are among the other things taxpayers might need to have on hand:

  • Amounts of taxes paid, which may include property tax or sales tax
  • Amount paid for child care, plus provider’s tax ID number
  • Amounts spent on job searches, medical expenses and casualty (disaster) losses
  • Amount of alimony paid, plus ex-spouse’s Social Security number
  • Taxpayers need to gather their receipts for business/job expenses, medical expenses, and other expenses that could be eligible for tax deductions for tax year 2017.

Unless this is the first year a taxpayer will be filing a return, having the prior year’s federal and state tax returns – these can be electronic documents – will make importing that data easier than ever.

What’s in the box? It isn’t one size fits all

Knowing what paperwork is needed depends on the taxpayer and what’s going on in their life. This means the specific financial documents in the mailbox –and the email inbox – will vary based on their personal financial situation and what happened in the past year. For example, having a baby, sending the “baby” to college, starting a business and buying a new home are considered some of the major life changes that can impact a tax situation and be reflected in what documents are needed when preparing a tax return.

Some of these documents and reports will show up in envelopes that have “important tax document” printed on them so be sure to put them in a safe – memorable – place for easy access. Also, be on the lookout for these items:

  • Anything that reports income, including W-2s, 1099-MISC (for self-employed, freelancers and contractors), partnership income (Schedule K-1), unemployment compensation and state tax refunds (1099-G)
      • TIP: Even if some income isn’t reported on one of these forms, that income may need to be reported on the tax return. For example, self-employed taxpayers often have income that is not reported on Form 1099-MISC, but that income should still be reported on their tax returns.
      • TIP: Don’t be tempted to use the final paystub as a substitute for a W-2; the information might not match and some necessary filing information on W-2s isn’t on paystubs.
  • Marketplace health insurance records proving insured status (Form 1095-A) or exemption status (exemption certificate number)
  • Form 1095-B or 1095-C from an employer or private plan confirming health insurance coverage
  • Tax reporting documents from banks and investment companies, including retirement plans, such as 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, and 1099-R
  • Statements detailing stocks and property sold, such as 1099-B
  • Documents showing contributions to a 529 education savings plan
  • Receipts for large charitable donations – smaller donations might have to be tracked by the taxpayer, depending on the organization
  • Statements or receipts showing tuition paid for college, and 1098-T
  • Statement showing amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid (Form 1098).

Organizing the necessary documents can make tax prep progress more smoothly, and checking the documents a taxpayer has against a customized tax prep checklist can help them make sure they aren’t missing important documents.

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Teresa L. Clark

Teresa L. Clark

Contributor

Teresa L. Clark came to H&R Block in January 2010 after working as a civil servant for more than 13 years. Since that first tax season she has written blog posts and talking points, edited content of all shapes and sizes, facilitated media interviews for the experts in The Tax Institute at H&R Block and supported the DIY team. Clark has a master's degree in integrated marketing communications from the University of Kansas and is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

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