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Here's What You Should Bring To Your Tax Preparation Appointment

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Doing your own taxes can be stressful and complicated. This may be especially true if you had a complex tax situation over the past year, such as a change in employment or income from freelance work. The best way to get the help you need to file your taxes accurately is to work with a tax preparation service. With this type of service, you'll get dedicated help preparing your taxes from an experienced professional.

Before you attend your tax preparation appointment, however, there are some documents you may need to gather.

Identifying Documents

The first thing your tax preparation specialist will need to do is to make sure you are who you say you are. With this in mind, you should be prepared with a government-issued ID (for example, a driver's license or state ID), as well as a social security card or taxpayer identification card. If you'll be filing with a spouse and/or claiming any dependents, you will need their social security numbers as well.

Income Documentation

Next, your tax preparation specialist will need to determine exactly how much money you made during the tax year for which you're filing. The most common income document that you may receive if you work a "traditional" job with an employer is a W-2. If you haven't yet received your W-2, you can bring a copy of your most recent pay stub.

If you're self-employed, be sure to bring any 1099s you have received from your clients — as well as documentation for any income that has not been formally reported on a 1099. If you've made any estimated tax payments throughout the year, be sure to bring records of these (such as confirmation numbers or email receipts).

Other potential sources of income that you'll need to report include:

  • unemployment income
  • retirement income
  • disability income
  • alimony

Receipts for Write-Offs

Next, you'll want to claim as many deductions as you're entitled to; this will help to lessen your tax burden. Your tax specialist will need any and all receipts for relevant expenses you incurred during the tax year. This may include receipts for goods and services related to running your own business. Other expenses that may be tax-deductible include:

  • mortgage interest
  • retirement contributions
  • student loan interest
  • childcare costs
  • some medical and/or dental bills

By bringing the right documentation to your tax preparation company, you can get your taxes done as quickly (and accurately) as possible without leaving money on the table.