- A W-2 from an employer;
- A 1099 statement from a bank or brokerage account;
- An SSA-1099 from the Social Security Administration;
- A 1099-R from a retirement investment; and
- A schedule K-1 from either a partnership or an estate/trust.
If you haven’t received all your tax forms by mid-February, you should contact the relevant institutions as soon as possible to make sure they have the right address for you and that they did send the forms. It’s important to make sure you “have all your ducks in a row.”
We suggest filling out a tax organizer, a tool we provide to our clients. A tax organizer is a questionnaire that will highlight some important things that should be considered when preparing your tax return. The organizer will help to ensure you’ve listed all your income and possible deductions.
If there’s been any kind of major event in your life in the last year, it’s a good idea to jot it down and discuss it with your tax preparer or tax advisor. This way, they will have the full picture of your current situation so they can accurately file your returns. A few things to consider informing your tax preparer are as follows:
- You have a new dependent (e.g., you had a baby or your parents moved in with you).
- You bought a home and now have a mortgage interest and property taxes.
- Your medical expenses (or those of your dependent) have increased.
- You or one of your kids went to school and now have student loans to pay.
- You got married or divorced.
- A spouse or dependent died.
Tax preparers want to help you, and there are ways you can make this easier for them:
- Try to understand what you’re giving them. Really review everything and make sure it’s all relevant.
- Be organized. Putting things in chronological order or order of importance (most important to least important) is very helpful for your preparer.
- Be consistent. Use the same tax preparer from year to year if possible. With that said, if you’re unhappy with your current tax preparer, then you should certainly seek to retain the services of another; just make sure to bring your prior year’s tax returns with you (preferably the last few years’ returns, in fact).
Keep an eye on deadlines! April 15th, 2016, is the last day you have to file. You can file an extension, but you should pay an estimate if necessary. If you are going to file an extension for your tax returns, then talk with your tax preparer about paying an estimated tax liability. That way, you will hopefully avoid or minimize any penalties or interest that may be incurred.
Eric J. Einhart
Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530