Documents you need to do your taxes

The IRS estimates taxpayers spend 13 hours on average preparing their tax returns. Knowing which IRS forms you’ll need, and which of your own records to have handy, can make the process quicker and easier. The documents you’ll need are likely to fall into one of the following three buckets.

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Income-related forms

If you made money this year—either by working, saving or investing—you may receive one of the following forms.

You may receive these forms from any person or place that paid you $600 or more.

W-2

If you worked as an employee, look out for a Form W-2 listing your total income from that employer, as well as taxes withheld.

1099-MISC

Did you do freelance or consulting work? Your client may issue you a Form 1099-MISC detailing your income.

You may receive this form if you earned $10 or more in interest.

1099-INT

Did you earn interest on savings or investments? You’ll likely receive a Form 1099-INT with those details.

Adjustments to income

You may be able to deduct the following expenses from your gross income without having to itemize. Be sure to keep any documentation nearby.

Retirement account contributions

HSA contributions and/or health insurance payments if you’re self-employed

Employer-equivalent portion of self-employment taxes

Moving expenses

Tuition or student loan interest paid

Alimony you paid

These adjustments may come with certain caveats. The information in your documents can help you figure out if you qualify.

Deductions and credits

If you plan to itemize (https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/taxes-income/5-questions-to-decide-whether-to-itemize-deductions.html) or claim tax credits, the following documents can help you prepare for some of the more common ones.

Mileage records: You may be able to deduct mileage if you drove for certain IRS-accepted purposes, which may include non-reimbursed work trips.

Charitable donations: Keep receipts from all donations. If you donated a car, boat or airplane, the charity should send you a Form 1098-C.

Medical expenses: If your family’s qualified expenses exceeded 10% of your adjusted gross income (7.5% if you’re 65 or older), you may be able to deduct them.

Dependent care bills: If you paid someone to care for your child so you could work or look for work, you may qualify for a tax credit.

Property taxes: Keep state and local real estate tax records handy.

Tuition details: You may qualify for a tax credit or deduction if you or a dependent studied at an eligible institution. You don’t need to itemize to claim these benefits; use Forms 8863 or 8917.

Interest paid: Some interest, such as mortgage interest, may be deductible. You are likely to receive a Form 1098 documenting these payments.

All these deductions and credits come with rules and exceptions. The IRS maintains a full list of deductions (https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc500.html) you can itemize, as well as details about each one.

Tip: Have your previous year’s tax return on hand. If you use tax preparation software or an accountant to prepare your return, you are likely to need it. If you don’t have a copy, you can request one from the IRS (https://www.irs.gov/uac/about-form-4506).

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