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2021 Personal Tax Preparation Checklist

The end of the year signals that it’s time for people to get their information and documents ready for tax season. If you find yourself scrambling to remember and gather everything you need, check out our tax preparation checklist as an easy guide!

Everyone’s situation will vary when it comes to their personal taxes, so not all of these items or sections may apply to you. Review this list to determine which records you need to maximize your tax refund, whether you’re working with a CPA or filing your own taxes. We’ll cover:

  • Personal Information

  • Dependent Information

  • Income Sources

  • Expense Categories

...along with which documents and IRS forms you need for each area.

Personal Information

Start with the basics! Prepare for your personal taxes by gathering essential information for yourself and your spouse, including:

  • Your social security number (SSN) or tax ID number (TIN)

  • Your spouse’s full name, SSN or TIN, and date of birth

  • Stimulus payment (i.e., economic impact payment or EIP) information. You may have received an IRS Notice 1444 or other records showing your EIP amount.

  • If applicable, Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) for you, your spouse, and/or your dependents.

  • Bank account and routing numbers if you choose to receive your refund by direct deposit or pay your balance electronically

  • 2019 tax return for this year’s “lookback rule”

What is:

  • TIN: A Taxpayer Identification Number is used by the IRS for tax purposes and is issued either by the Social Security Administration or by the IRS. A TIN could be an SSN or Employer Identification Number (EIN). You need a TIN for tax returns, statements, and other tax-related documents. Learn more about TINs.

  • IP PIN: An Identity Protection Pin is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. It helps the IRS verify your identity when filing your electronic or paper tax return and protects your account. Learn more about IP PINs.

  • “Lookback rule:” The government is allowing individuals who earned less in 2020 to use either their 2019 or 2020 income on their taxes, depending on which one gets them the larger tax refund (i.e., whether they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit).

Dependent Information

Next, parents and legal guardians should compile the following information for their dependents:

  • Dates of birth and SSNs or TINs

  • Childcare expenses (including provider’s address and TIN)

  • Income of dependents and other adults in your home

  • Form 8332 showing that the child’s custodial parent is releasing their right to claim the child to you, the noncustodial parent (if applicable)

Income Sources

Some of these income sources or forms may not be necessary for you to file your taxes this year, while others may not apply to you at all. Only gather the documents that apply to your 2021 income.

Employment Income

  • W2 form(s) for all jobs held in 2021 (your employers must send this to you by January 31, 2022)

Unemployment Income

  • 1099-G for unemployment benefits

Self-Employment Income

  • 1099-MISC and/or 1099-NEC, Schedules K-1

  • Income records to verify amounts not reported on Forms 1099

  • Expense records: Receipts, credit card statements, checks, etc.

  • Business assets information for depreciation (i.e., cost, in-service date, useful life, etc.)

  • Home office information (if applicable)

  • 1040-ES for proof of estimated self-employment tax payments made

Rental Income

  • Income and expense records

  • Rental asset information for depreciation (i.e., cost, in-service date, etc.)

  • 1040-ES for proof of estimated tax payments made

Retirement Income

  • 1099-R for pension, IRA, and/or annuity income

  • SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits

  • RRB-1099 for RRB income

  • Traditional IRA contributions (i.e., pre-taxed contributions)

Savings & Investments or Dividends

  • 1099-INT, 1099-OID, and/or 1099-DIV for interest and dividend income

  • 1099-B for income from sales of stocks, commodities, etc.

  • 1099-S for income from real estate sales (entered in the same section as 1099-B information)

  • Dates of acquisition and records of your cost in property you sold (if not reported on 1099-B)

  • 1099-SA for Health Savings Account reimbursements

  • 1099-LTC for long-term care reimbursements

  • Expenses related to your investments

  • 1040-ES for proof of estimated tax payments made

  • Cryptocurrency transactions (i.e., virtual currency)

Other Income & Losses

  • W-2G for gambling income, or statements showing income and expense records)

  • 1099-G for state/local income tax refunds

  • 1098-T for scholarships/fellowships

  • 1099-R for disability income

  • Jury duty records

  • Hobby income and expenses

  • Prizes and awards

  • Trust income

  • 1099-MISC for royalty income

  • Alimony records showing ex-spouse’s name and SSN

  • Any other 1099s or records of income

Expense Categories

It’s time to break out those receipts you’ve held onto and organized all year! You may be eligible for some tax deductions based on certain expenses. Gather documentation for the following costs:

Homeowner Expenses

  • Forms 1098 and mortgage statements

  • Real estate and personal property tax bills

  • Receipts for energy-saving home improvements (e.g., solar electric, solar water heater, etc.)

Charitable Donations

  • Receipts for both cash and non-cash donations to houses of worship, schools, and other charitable organizations

  • Miles driven for charitable purposes

Medical Expenses

  • Receipts for healthcare, insurance, doctors, dentists, and hospitals

  • Miles driven for medical purposes

  • Form 1095-A if you purchased an insurance plan through the Marketplace (Exchange)

Childcare Expenses

  • Daycare fees for your infant or preschool-age child

  • Babysitter or childcare provider fees for care of your child under age 13 while you work

  • Dependent care flexible spending account expenses

Educational Expenses

  • Forms 1098-T from educational institutions

  • Receipts for qualified educational expenses

  • Records of any scholarships or fellowships you received

  • Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid

Educator Expenses

  • Receipts for classroom supplies (for educators of grades K-12)

State & Local Taxes

  • State and local income or sales tax paid (besides wage withholding)

  • Invoice for vehicle sales tax paid and/or personal property tax on vehicles

Retirement & Other Savings

  • Form 5498-SA for HSA contributions

  • FORM 5498 for IRA contributions

  • All other 5498 series forms (e.g., 5498-QA, 5498-ESA)

Federally Declared Disaster

  • City/county where you lived, worked, or owned property

  • Records showing property losses (e.g., appraisal, clean-up costs, etc.)

  • Records of rebuilding/repair costs

  • Insurance reimbursements/claims to be paid

  • FEMA assistance information

To find out if your country has been declared a federal disaster area, check the FEMA website.

Do you have questions about specific items on this personal tax checklist? Contact our accountants today for assistance at 603-505-2368 or schedule a free consultation, and we’ll be happy to help you navigate tax season successfully!

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