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What to bring to your tax preparer

Date posted:  2/3/16 09:00:00 AM

Spring may seem far away with these cold temperatures, but before you know it tax season will be here. If you are planning on taking your taxes to a tax preparer, there are a few items you should bring, in addition to a couple things you'll need to do. 

Follow these tips prior to heading to a tax professional:

Gather all necessary documents 
There are quite a few things you'll need to bring to your tax professional when you're ready to do your taxes. According to Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, being prepared will save you both time and money. Below are some of the employment-related documents you should bring:

  • W-2 forms from your employer(s)
  • Business income and expenses if you are self-employed/1099-MISC
  • Unemployment income/1099-G
  • Pension or retirement income/1099-R
  • Paperwork documenting interest on savings or investments 

Also bring documentation of any other income or losses for the calendar year. This can range from lottery or gambling winnings and losses to, dental or medical expenses. 

Include your personal information 
At your appointment you will want to have all personal information available for your accountant, including: 

  • Social security number or tax ID number 
  • Dates of birth for all individuals represented in your household (spouse and dependents)
  • Social security numbers of any dependents and spouses 

Know what you can deduct 
According to TurboTax, there are a number of tax deductions you may not be aware of. Charitable gifts throughout the year, paying the babysitter while you volunteer and health insurance premiums are some examples of expenses you can deduct when doing your taxes. Bring documents and receipts with you to your appointment to indicate you've spent money on these items.

Speak with your tax professional to learn about additional deduction opportunities.   

Be organized throughout the entire year 
According to U.S. News & World Report, it is critical to keep all essential documents organized throughout the year to make doing your taxes easier. Establish your own system to keep everything in place before filing.  

"This could be a plastic-sectioned accordion file or something as simple as a manila folder," said Denise Mummert, a certified public accountant, according to U.S. News & World Report. "Set up a tax return data file at the beginning of the year and put information in it throughout the year as events occur."

You do not want to show up to your tax preparer meeting with a shoebox full of receipts and no idea what you should have done to organize them during the year. In many instances, accountants and tax professionals won't even be able to look over all the contents. 

Stay in contact with your accountant during the year to ensure you know what needs to be saved to maximize your tax return. 

"When clients show up in March with a 'Here, this is what I did last year,' situation, I can't help them," noted Juana Maria Gonzalez, a tax preparer, according to U.S. News & World Report. "So consult, consult, consult." 

When you bring your documents in, make sure you do so on time. If you need reminders, keep a planner or set alarms on your phone to to help you stay on track. Early is even better, so if you can swing it, try to get all documents and receipts to your accountant as soon as possible. 

Tax season is a very important time of year, so coming to your tax professional prepared is critical. Make sure you have all of your necessary documents in order prior to heading into your tax filing appointment.