Five Things Your Accountant Needs To Prepare Taxes
Depending on your filing status, your accountant will need different types of information to prepare your tax return. In addition, if you are self-employed or a full-time college student, this will also determine the types of forms that you will need to use. Heres a breakdown of five types of documents youll need when filing your taxes:
What Is An Ss
If you dont have an employer identification number, or EIN, use Form SS-4 to apply for one. The nine-digit number is assigned to employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, estates, trusts, certain individuals, and other entities for tax filing and reporting purposes. Use the IRSs Do You Need an EIN? to determine if you need to apply for one. You can receive your number more quickly by applying online.
Best for:Employers who answer yes to any of these questions, and others who need an EIN.
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What To Bring To An Accountant For Tax Prep
Youll need all this information and documentation whether you prepare your tax return yourself or if you decide to use a tax professional. The difference with the professional is that youll have to take all pertinent information with you to your appointment or gather it together in advance to send through fax or electronically. Youll also need some additional documentation if youre using a tax professional for the first time.
Your tax preparer will require identifying information for you, your spouse , and your qualifying dependents, if applicable. This means Social Security cards, although you can typically take a copy of your most recent years tax return instead. This will detail all your identifying information, unless youve since acquired another dependent who wasnt listed on that return.
Of course, you wont have to bring all of this with you if youre using the same professional youve used before. Theyll already have everything at their fingertips.
Its a good idea to take your previous years tax return with you to meet a tax professional, even if you have Social Security cards for everyone in your family. This should give your tax preparer an accurate picture of your personal tax situation, in addition to the identifying information it includes.
You might need a wheelbarrow to hold all this paperwork, but it will be worth it if your tax situation is complex enough that it requires a great deal of documentation.
Tax Prep Checklist: What You Need To Know
If youre part of the roughly 60% of Americans who pay someone else to prepare their tax return, then theres a good chance that youve had to make more than one visit to the preparers office because you forgot something. A financial advisor can also help you optimize your tax strategy to reach investing and retirement goals. Since preparing taxes happens only once a year, weve put together a checklist with five items to help you gather all the documents you need beforehand.
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Do You Have To File A Tax Return
Even if you lived in Canada for only part of the year, you may have to file a tax return.
File a return for 2020 if:
- You have to pay tax for the year
- You want to claim a refund
- You want to get benefit and credit payments
Even if you do not have any income in the year, you may want to file a tax return so that the CRA can determine if you are eligible for the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, or if you or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving the Canada child benefit and other benefits from certain related provincial or territorial related programs.
For more information, go to Do you have to file a return?
If you lived in Quebec on December 31, 2019, you may have to file a separate provincial tax return. For more information, visit Revenu Québec.
If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, and require assistance with filing your return, you may be eligible to use the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.
If you are self-employed or own a small business and need help understanding your tax obligations, you can get free in-person tax help from the CRAs Liaison Officer Service.
Proof Of Disaster Theft And Other Unexpected Losses
Despite all appearances, the Internal Revenue Service is not out to get you. In fact, there are several provisions in the tax code designed to help out folks who are victims of unexpected and expensive losses of property or cash.
For example, there are special deductions for people who are the victims of theft. For IRS purposes, that includes blackmail, burglary, embezzlement, extortion, kidnapping for ransom, larceny and robbery. To claim a loss from theft, you need to provide proof that you were the owner of the property and when it was taken from you. You don’t, however, have to prove that a conviction resulted from the crime . If you were a victim of theft, bring all related documentation to your tax preparer. Keep in mind that you must deduct any paid insurance claims from your losses.
The tax code also looks after people who are victims of natural disasters like fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes. In fact, there are special exemptions and deductions for people who live within federally declared disaster areas. To qualify for these deductions, you will need to provide your tax preparer with records of the lost property, clean-up expenses and rebuilding costs. You will also need to note any FEMA assistance or insurance reimbursements that you’ve already received.
Now that all of your deductions have been tallied, it’s time to find out if you’re getting a refund or paying even more to Uncle Sam.
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Free Tax Return Help For Eligible Taxpayers
Find out if you qualify for the following free tax return preparation services:
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – VITA offers free tax help to people who generally make $57,000 or less, people with disabilities, and taxpayers with limited English. IRS-certified volunteers explain tax credits and prepare a basic tax return with electronic filing.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly – TCE focuses on questions about pensions and retirement-related issues. It offers free tax help to all taxpayers, particularly to those who are 60 years old or older.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many VITA and TCE offices are closed. Use the VITA/TCE locator tool to find an open office near you. To learn more about the services of VITA and TCE and what you should bring to your appointment, use the VITA/TCE checklist.
What Are 1099 Forms
1099-G: States will send both you and the federal government a 1099-G form at the beginning of the year, which shows income you received from that state during the previous tax year. The income can include:
- Unemployment compensation.
- State or local income tax refunds, credits or offsets.
- Reemployment trade adjustment assistance payments.
- Taxable grants.
- Agricultural payments.
You will receive a 1099-G in 2021 from any state that gave you money in 2020. This form is where the unemployment compensation you received is listed. Remember: If you made less than $150,000 in 2020, only unemployment benefits over $10,200 are taxable. If taxes were withheld from your unemployment insurance checks, this will be reflected in your 1099-G form.
Best for:People who received unemploymentcompensation.
1099-MISC and 1099-NEC: For tax year 2020 or a prior year, entities or people who have paid you money during the year will mail you a 1099-MISC form for miscellaneous income. If youre a freelancer or a contract worker, you can expect to receive a 1099 form in the mail for each of the people or companies you worked for. Starting with tax year 2020, freelancers will receive the new Form 1099-NEC. There are a number of other reasons you might receive a 1099-MISC form, including if you received monetary prizes or awards, or were paid royalties or rent. Youll use the form to file your own taxes.
Best for:Freelancers, contract workers or anyone who receives miscellaneous income.
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Free Tools To Help With Taxes
The IRS provides free publications, forms, and tools to help taxpayers:
Help and Resource Center – Learn about the many free services and resources that the IRS offers to taxpayers.
Interactive Tax Assistant – Use this tool to find answers to your general tax questions.
Tax Tools – Find interactive forms, calculators, and other helpful tools.
Choose a Tax Preparer – Get tips for finding a tax preparer with the credentials and experience to handle your tax needs. Learn how to file a complaint if your preparer has acted improperly.
Forms and Publications – Get tax forms and instructions. You can also search for specific titles or product numbers. The IRS also offers forms and publications for taxpayers with visual impairments.
Documents That Support Tax Deductions
Identifying the documents youll need to claim certain tax deductions can be an arduous process. Ideally, youve been collecting them all year long as you paid certain expenses.
Its not necessary to provide your receipts to the IRS unless youre audited, but youll need them to ascertain how much you can claim for various deductions, and youll want to keep them on hand just in case. While you can take the easy way out and simply claim the standard deduction for your filing status, youll have to know how much you spent on qualifying expenses if you decide to itemize instead. Common itemized deductions include charitable giving, state and local property and income taxes, medical expenses, and health insurance.
A full list of available itemized deductions appears on Schedule A, which you must complete and submit with your tax return if you elect to itemize.
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What Deductions Can You Claim
You may be able to reduce your income by claiming deductions that you qualify for. A deduction is an amount that is allowed to you provided that you qualify for it. If so, its subtracted from your total income. The result is called taxable income which is used to calculate your federal and provincial or territorial tax. The following deductions are some of the most common.
Registered retirement savings plan contributions
Generally, you cannot deduct contributions you made to a registered retirement savings plan in 2019 if this is the first year that you will be filing a tax return in Canada.
However, if you filed a tax return in Canada for any tax year from 1990 to 2018, you may be able to claim a deduction for RRSP contributions you made in Canada for 2019. The CRA bases the maximum amount you can deduct on certain types of income you earned in earlier years.
For more information, go to Line 20800 RRSP deduction.
Pension income splitting
If you and your spouse or common-law partner were residents of Canada on December 31, 2019, you can elect to split your pension income that qualifies for the pension income amount . To make this election, you and your spouse or common-law partner must complete and attach Form T1032, Joint Election to Split Pension Income, to your tax returns.
For more information, go to Pension income splitting.
What Documents Do I Need To File My Taxes
In addition to proof of your identity, and the identities of your family members, documents you should bring to a tax preparer include:
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If You Forget To Bring A Document You Can Always Send It To Us Digitally We Offer A Secure Online Portal Where You Can Safely Upload Your Tax Documents For Us To View
Filing your taxes requires documentation – some people will have more paperwork than others. If you don’t know what documents you need, bring anything that says “Tax Document” or “IRS”. Remember, this list is not all-inclusive and you may need to bring additional items to your appointment.
– If you are claiming children, please bring documentation that they live with you . Some college students will receive the form 1098-T, which is important to include on your tax return. Read our post on claiming dependents and what else you can use as proof of residency.
– If you are claiming an adult as a dependent, we do not require proof of living expenses paid but know that in case of an audit, the IRS will require proof.
– You will need to bring all W2‘s that you received in the tax year. Each job you worked at will provide you with one either in person or through the mail. If you do not have your W2 in time for your appointment, your last paystub for tax year will allow us to figure up your return. Once you send us the W2, we can finalize your return quickly.
– If you made any charitable donations, you will need to bring receipts or a givings statement if you would like them to be included on the return. They don’t always make a difference, but you never know!
– If you own a home, you will receive a Mortgage Interest Statement. Like donations, this will not always make a significant impact on your taxes – but it could!
What To Bring To Do Your Taxes
Im going to tell you what I tell everyone else: everything:
- If it comes in the mail and is marked, Important tax documents, bring it.
- If your employer hands it to you, bring it.
- If you have no idea what it is and it looks official, bring it.
OK, so you made an envelope or folder or box and gathered it all to do your taxes. So, what are you forgetting? Read on to get a better understanding of how to prepare, and if you want a quick checklist when you are gathering your paperwork, download our free printable checklist.
Top 7 things most forgotten by my tax clients
1 Their childrens social security numbers. Also, their spouses social security number. Most people remember their kids birthdays but the years they were born may take some thought. I had one guy have an anxiety attack when he realized he couldnt remember his wifes birthday. I had her come in to sign and asked for ID. I might have saved their marriage.
2- Childcare paid. I also need their tax ID, address, and phone number. There is not a standard IRS form for this, so you have to ask for it.
3 Routing and account number for direct deposit refunds. I see so many people scramble for this because no one carries a checkbook and many online bank apps do not show the full account number to keep your information secure.
4 Mortgage interest statement. Yes, I need the form and not just the interest amount. Some mortgages have gone to online forms in your online account.
But I thought I dont itemize anymore
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Do I Have To File Taxes
Most adults are legally obligated to file state and federal taxes, but there are some exceptions. If your income is under the standard deduction amount for your filing status, you may not be required to file a federal income tax return.
For 2021, the standard deduction is $25,100 for married couples filing jointly, $12,550 for single taxpayers and married individuals filing separately, and $18,800 for heads of household.
What You Need To Bring To Your Tax Appointment
Lets go through a few of the most common tax documents youll need for your upcoming tax appointment.
- Supplemental Income and Expenses worksheet
- Your own personal tax checklist form
If each form above were purchased individually, it would cost more than $40! The bundle not only helps you get started early on your taxes, it also saves you money!
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Information About Your Income:
- Income from jobs: forms W-2 for you and your spouse
- Investment incomevarious forms 1099 , K-1s, stock option information
- Income from state and local income tax refunds and/or unemployment: forms 1099-G
- Taxable alimony received
- Business or farming incomeprofit/loss statement, capital equipment information
- If you use your home for businesshome size, office size, home expenses, office expenses.
- IRA/pension distributionsforms 1099-R, 8606
- Rental property income/expenseprofit/Loss statement, rental property suspended loss information
- Social Security benefitsforms SSA-1099
- Income from sales of propertyoriginal cost and cost of improvements, escrow closing statement, cancelled debt information
- Prior year installment sale informationforms 6252, principal and Interest collected during the year, SSN and address of payer
- Other miscellaneous incomejury duty, gambling winnings, Medical Savings Account , scholarships, etc.