Documents you need to do your taxes

The IRS estimates taxpayers spend 12 hours on average preparing their tax returns. Knowing which IRS forms you need, and which of your own records to have handy, can make the process quicker and easier. The documents you 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 or more of the following forms.

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

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.

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.

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
  • Student loan interest paid
  • Employer-equivalent portion of self-employment taxes
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions and/or health insurance payments if you’re self-employed

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 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. Keep receipts from all donations.                         

Charitable donations
Keep receipts from all donations. If you donated a motor vehicle, boat or airplane valued over $500, the charity should send you a Form 1098-C.

Medical expenses
If your family’s qualified out-of-pocket expenses exceeded a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income, you may be able to deduct them.

Dependent care bills
If you paid someone to care for your child or certain other dependents 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 tax credits if you, your spouse or a dependent studied at an eligible institution. You don’t need to itemize to claim these benefits; use Form 8863.

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. Visit the IRS website for a full list of itemized deductions you may be able to claim 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.

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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial, tax or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional and tax advisor when making decisions regarding your financial situation.

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