Checklist of Information Needed to Prepare Your Return
This is meant to serve only as a guide for gathering and organizing your paperwork. It is designed solely to provide general guidance to the reader, and is not intended to be a subtitute for personalized professional advice based on a particular factual situation. Thus, the information provided in this Guide does not constitute professional accounting or legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. Although we have made every reasonable effort to ensure that the information is accurate, Venable Accounting Inc offers no warranties, expressed or implied, on the information provided in this Guide. The user of the information contained herein accepts it "as is" and assumes all responsibility for its use.
- New Client? Copy of last year's return if possible.
- All income statements: W-2 Forms, Interest and dividends statements, Annuity or pension statements, State tax refunds, Unemployment compensation, Social Security benefits received, Commissions or rents, K-1's from corporations, partnership or trusts.
- Did you take the Homebuyers credit in 2008? If so, the third annual repayment is due with your 2012 return.
- If you are itemizing: Amount of medical expenses paid including Health Insurance premiums (if not pre-taxed from your employment), Doctor or hospital co-pays, Prescription drugs (non prescription health supplements do not qualify), Vision care, eyeglasses, contact lenses and solutions, Mileage back and forth to doctors or hospitals (you must have a mileage log ), Property taxes paid in 2012 (no matter what year they were for), Forms 1098 Statement of Mortgage Interest Paid, Receipts and cancelled checks for charitable contributions, Sales Tax - you can use the tables or actual receipts, but don't forget receipts for vehicles, boats, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, airplanes, leased vehicles - the sales tax paid on those items get added to the tables. If you paid State Income Tax to another state, you'll have the option of taking State Tax or Sales Tax, but not both, Job expenses such as un-reimbursed mileage (you must have a mileage log**), uniforms, Union dues, hotel and meal expenses for out-of-town travel.
- If your purchased a new (to you) vehicle in 2012 the buyers statement showing sales tax paid.
- If you re-financed your home in 2012: copies of the settlement statements to check for possible deductions.
- If you sold real estate, stock or a mutual fund during the year we need a description of the property, dates of purchase and sale, purchase and selling price, expenses of sale, for real property -- a list of improvements and your settlement statements for both the purchase and sale.
- Estimated Payments (ES) you made for 2012. Don't forget the January 15, 2013 payment which was the 4th quarter 2012 tax payment.
- Child Care Expense including amount paid for each child, name, address and ID number of provider (required to take the credit) for children up to age 13. If the child turned 13 during 2012 you can deduct those expenses paid up to the 13th birthday.
- If you have rental property: rental income and list of expenses, depreciation schedule if it was rented in prior year. If purchased in 2012 your HUD closing statement.
- If self-employed: Your total income and list of expenses, mileage log if you are taking auto expense, health insurance premiums paid on insurance you purchase yourself (including premiums paid for your child under age 27 regardless of whether they are your dependent), depreciation schedule if you have property placed in service in a prior year. Save on bookkeeping fees by totaling the year's income and expenses by category. Call to see if we have a worksheet for your type of business. The IRS allows a home office deduction if you use the office regularly and exclusively for business. If you qualify we'll need the amounts paid for utilities, home insurance and repairs, the square footage of the office and square footage of your home.
- Education expenses for post-high school including tuition, books and course materials if you qualify for the American Opportunity Credit (first 4 years). The Lifetime Learning Credit is still available for an unlimited number of years for tuition and fees only (not course materials). New in 2012 we will need the 1098-T showing the school's Federal ID #, name and address as well as the amount paid (not billed) for tuition.
- IRA's - Be sure to let us know if you made contributions to or took distributions from your IRA. Remember -- you have until April 15th to make your IRA contributions. The maximim contribution for 2012 is $5,000 ($6,000 if age 50 or above). Phase out rules apply for active participants in your employer's retirement plan. You may also be eligible for the Retirement Savers Credit. If so, we will need copies of your 2010 and 2011 returns (if we did not prepare them). The lookback rule for distributions relating to this credit are 1/1/2010 through 4/15/2013.
- Did you convert a traditional IRA to a ROTH IRA in 2010? If you chose to defer the tax the second bill comes due in 2012.
- Were you born in 1942? The IRS requires that distributions from regular (not ROTH) IRA's commence by April 1 of the year following the year you turn 70-1/2.
- Did you sell your residence in 2012? If you owned and lived in it 24 out of the 60 months before the sale you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain ($500,000 if you and your spouse both qualify). There are a few exceptions to the 24/60 time limits. Limitations apply if you've used the home for nonqualified use (ie rental, vacation home, office in home).
- Child with Investment Income: The Kiddie Tax applies to children up to age 19 (age 24 and a full-time student) with investment income over $1,900.
- Non-custodial Parent claiming child: If you are NOT the custodial parent but claim the child as a dependent you must attach Form 8332 signed by the custodial parent to your return.
- Child Tax Credit stays at $1,000 maximum per child for 2012. The child must be under age 17 on December 31, 2012. The credit phases out if your income is too high.
- Did you short sell your home or was it foreclosed on in 2012? All or part of the forgiven debt may not be taxable. In order to compute the excluded amount you will need copies of your original and all subsequent closing statements.
- Did you settle on a credit card or other debt for less than the full amount? If so you may have taxable debt forgiveness income. Be sure to let us know even if you did not receive a 1099-C form from lender. Our experience is that the lender may not get the form to you, but they certainly don't miss sending it to IRS!
- Are you Head of Household (single parent of child who lives with you) and/or eligible for EIC? New in 2012 you must have documentation showing the child's residency (school records or statement, child care provider records or medical records, mortgage interest or rental statement), placement agency statement if foster child. As preparers we are mandated by IRS to ask additional questions and require actual documentation and keep copies of that documentation in our files.
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Important changes for 2012 and 2013