Tax Preparation Checklist

What You Need To File Your Taxes, On One Sheet

March 1, 2020

Ellen PrescottBy Ellen Prescott
Senior Vice President & General Auditor

It’s that time of year again: tax season! Whether you’re filing taxes yourself or hiring a professional, getting your tax documents organized can help speed up the process.

In this article, we'll break down the exact documents you'll need to prepare your taxes in 2020. We even created a simple tax preparation checklist to help get you started!

Download Tax Checklist (PDF)

What Documents Do You Need to Prepare Your Taxes?

The forms and documents you'll need to file your taxes can be broken down into three basic categories: personal information, income information and possible credits/deductions.

1. Personal Information

☐ Legal Information. This includes social security numbers (or tax ID numbers) and dates of birth for yourself, your spouse and any household dependents.

☐ A Copy of Last Year’s Tax Return. It's best to keep at least three to five years of previous tax returns on hand — mainly because the IRS is generally 

How long should you keep your tax returns? 

You should keep records for at least three years from the date that you filed your most recent tax return. This is how long the IRS is permitted to audit most returns. However, under unique circumstances, experts say it's best to keep up to seven years of tax returns on hand — filed away in a secure box at home or a safe deposit box

2. Income Information

☐ Personal Income Statements. You should have a W-2 Form for each job held over the previous year by you, your spouse or any dependents. If you are self-employed, you will need all financial records pertaining to your business. In this scenario, we recommend finding a professional tax advisor.

☐ Unemployment Income.

☐ Investment or Interest IncomeThis includes money that financial institutions pay you for savings accounts, certificates of deposit, treasury bounds, or interest-yielding checking accounts.

☐ Retirement Plan Income. This includes money you collected from pensions, annuities and individual retirement accounts.

☐ Business/Farming Income. You’ll want to include a profit/loss statement, and any capital equipment purchases.

☐ Social Security/Medicare Benefits.

☐ Income from Sale of a Home or Property.

☐ Trust and Estate Beneficiary Earnings.

☐ State or Local Tax RefundsThis would be tax refund money you received in the last calendar year, from your previous tax filing period  (in this case, anything you received from Tax Year 2018).

☐ Medical Savings Account Reimbursements.

☐ Cancelled Debt (if any).

☐ Other, Miscellaneous Income. This includes (but is not limited to)  prizes, awards, royalty income, alimony received, jury duty, gambling/lottery winnings, scholarships, fellowships, rental income or independent contract work.

3. Possible Credits & Deductions

☐ Homeowner Expenses. This includes mortgage interest and any private mortgage insurance (PMI) you paid, real estate taxes, energy-efficient home improvements (save your receipts!) or moving expenses. If you just bought a home this year, you might also qualify for various homebuyer tax credits.

☐ Education Expenses. This includes any post-high school tuition or any student loan interest that you paid.

☐ Child & Dependent Care Expenses. You’ll need a statement with your provider’s name, address, tax ID (SSN) and amount paid to watch one of your dependents. Also, if you adopted a child this year include any records of legal, medical and transportation costs.

☐ Health Care Expenses. These include receipts for any medical and dental expenses. Also, you’ll want to gather your proof of health insurance.

☐ Charitable Contributions. Put together a detailed list of donations and receipts for any charitable contributions you made, including any donated automobiles or property. Also include out-of-pocket expenses used for the benefit of charities.

☐ Retirement Contributions. Any contributions made to non-Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

☐ Health Savings Account Contributions.

☐ Alimony Paid. You’ll need to include your ex-spouse’s name and social security number.

☐ Casualty & Theft Losses.

☐ Job Search & Job Education Expenses.

☐ Classroom Expenses (for Teachers). If you are a teacher, include receipts for any expenses paid for classroom supplies.

☐ Tax Payments. Include receipts for all local and state taxes paid during the previous year. If you own a vehicle, include receipts  of your vehicle license fees, and a statement of the estimated value of your vehicle. 

Was this tax checklist helpful?

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IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is for information purposes only, and Security National Bank is not a tax adviser company. There may be additional guidelines and information, regarding your personal tax situation, not included in this article. For more information, you should always contact your tax adviser or visit the IRS website.