Tax Preparation. Start now to make sure you have the right documentation and information to file a timely and accurate tax return.

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1 Tax Preparation Whether you plan to do your own tax returns or hire an accountant to do it for you, don t wait until the last minute to gather the necessary information. Start now to make sure you have the right documentation and information to file a timely and accurate tax return.

2 Personal Information While the tax laws may change from year to year, the basic information you need to do your return does not change much. The IRS needs to know exactly who is filing and who is covered in your tax return. You will need Social Security numbers and dates of birth for you, spouse and any dependents (if applicable). - This information is required in order to qualify for exemptions and most tax credits.

3 Employment & Income W-2 forms for the year These come in January from employers you received wages from. They are required to send your W-2s to the address they have on file for you. If you have moved, it is your responsibility to make sure they have your current address. Estate and trust income Use Form K-1: Info should come from the estate s trustee, or their accountant or financial institution. Pensions & annuities Use Form 1099-R: Info should come from the financial institution, or insurance company handling the annuity or pension fund.

4 Employment & Income Alimony received Info may come from ex-spouse or his/her representative. There is no prescribed form for reporting alimony. The amount of alimony income should match ex-spouses s deduction for alimony paid to you. Gambling & lottery winnings Form W-2G: Info should come from the casino or lottery authority. Prizes & awards Form 1099-MISC: Info will come from the award givers. Scholarships Form 1099-MISC: Info will come from the administrators of the program. State and local income tax refunds Form 1099-G: Info will come from IRS.

5 Homeowner/Renter Data Mortgage Interest Form 1098: Lender will send you this info. Sale of your home or real estate Form 1099-S: Lender or closing agent will send you this info. Real estate taxes paid Your county tax office or lender can provide this info to you. Rent paid during the year Some states have a renter s tax credit. You may be able to deduct up to $3000 of rent paid if it is your principle place of residence and if it was subject to Indiana property tax.

6 Financial Assets Dividend Income Statements Form 1099-DIV: Your financial institution should send these statements to you. Tax refunds & unemployment compensation Form 1099-G: If you received a state or federal tax return in the previous year you must claim is the following year. Retirement plan distribution Form 1099-R : You may be required to pay taxes on any distributions you receive from a retirement plan. Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Requires most Americans to have health insurance by Those who don t will have to pay a penalty depending on income and family size. More info is available at healthcare.gov.

7 Deductible Expenses The government offers a number of deductions and credits to help lower the tax burden on individuals, which means more money in your pocket. Some of those deductions include: Gifts to Charity: Keep track of donations; items or cash. Turn in receipts for single donations of $250 or more. Churches will provide annual statement of giving. Volunteer work expenses: Keep a detailed record of any expenses, including mileage. Un-reimbursed job expenses: Mileage, computer, cell phone, travel expenses Job hunting expenses: Cost of creating and sending resumes Child or dependent care expenses: You will need provider s name, social security #, full address and detailed record of expenses. Alimony paid: The authority dispersing funds will need to keep track of this data and you will need your ex-spouse s social security number. Tax return preparation expenses or feeds: Any cost of preparing your taxes from the previous year can be deducted the following year.

8 Adjustments To Income The following can help reduce the amount of your income that is taxed, which can increase your tax refund or lower the amount you owe. Visit IRS.gov/taxtopics for more detailed info. IRA contributions: These are made on a pre-tax basis and may be tax deductible Energy credits: The credit applies to improvements such as adding insulation, energy efficient exterior windows and energy-efficient heating and air conditioning systems. Student loan interest: If you are repaying a student loan, you could qualify to deduct student loan interest of up to $2, on your tax return Health Savings Account (HSA): Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible. Earnings, such as interest and dividends, in the health savings account are taxexempt at the federal level. Moving Expenses: If you moved due to a change in your job or business location, or because you started a new job or business, you may be able to deduct your reasonable moving expenses. You must meet certain requirements.

9 Pros & Cons of Preparing Your Own Taxes Pros Save money: Hiring an accountant can be costly, so you can save quite a bit by doing them yourself. Anyone can file for free at IRS.gov, or by using tax preparation software. Peace of mind: Some people do not trust accountants because they are overwhelmed during tax season. However, if you have a complicated return you need to have a thorough understanding of the entire process. Otherwise it may be best to turn to a professional. Gain financial insight: You can gain a closer look at your finances, and what effect certain saving options have on your return. Cons Time consuming: It will take you significantly longer to file your own taxes than if you hire an accountant. The US tax code can be complex and difficult to understand. Online help can be insufficient: You may be unsure as to whether or not you qualify for certain deductions. Tax preparation software may not always be able to answer the questions you have. Risk of error: By filing without assistance you are 100% accountable for your return and any errors that could be made.

10 Helpful Web Sites IRS.gov: helpful tax information and free online support, can file your taxes for free Myfreetaxes.com: free for individuals or families with combined income of $60K or less tax-software-review.toptenreviews.com: read reviews and compare the top tax preparation software

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