Right financial documents key to smooth tax filing experience

February 02, 2017 : Teresa L. Clark

Organization helps tax prep process go smoothly and so does the right DIY product

Mailboxes are starting to fill up with 2016 financial documents and reports needed to file an accurate tax return. MyBlock has the ultimate in secure and safe storage, no matter how taxpayers file. So, when uploading these financial documents, there’s no need to worry about this personal financial information getting into the wrong hands.

Here’s how to prepare for when statements about 2016 financial activity begin to arrive.

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 and are things everyone will need. 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.

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

Getting organized is a big part of having an easier DIY tax prep experience and that begins with knowing what paperwork is needed, which 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, 1099s, state tax refunds and unemployment compensation
  • Financial statements from banks and investment companies
  • 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
  • Statement showing amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid.

Not organizing these documents can make DIY tax prep much more difficult than it needs to be. Replacing, reprinting or recalculating a document can be done, but it’s much easier to keep up with the original.

Worried about having all the right documents? Don’t be; taxpayers can make a customized tax prep checklist of everything they’ll need to file an accurate tax return.

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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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