Use the following checklist for better tax preparation on your income tax return. Not every category will apply to you. Just pick those that do and make sure you have that information available. When you’re ready to prepare your income tax return using TurboTax software, you’ll be surprised how much time you will save by organizing your information ahead of time.

  • Before you start – Tax Preparation
  • Personal information
  • Income tax information
  • Adjustments
  • Itemized tax deductions
  • Information on household employees
  • Tax payments
  • Direct deposit information
  • Foreign bank account information
  • Energy-saving purchases

Before You Start – Tax Preparation

Print this article. Check things off as you collect them, and enter information such as Social Security numbers and cash amounts.

If you maintain your financial data in a personal finance software program such as Quicken®, print a report of your financial transactions for 2008. This is an invaluable tax preparation resource as you prepare your income tax return and helps you clearly see where your money goes each year. Having this information in a report is much easier than going through your checks for the entire year.

As you review the report, highlight information you will need for your tax return or make notes to remind yourself of something later. If you need more information on a certain item, the report makes it easier to find the item on the computer when you need the detail. For example, if you know you paid check number 1077 to the IRS but don’t know if it was for last year’s balance due, an estimated payment for this year, or an extension payment, you can do a search for check number 1077 and get more detail.

Now you’re ready to start gathering information. This income tax preparation checklist is divided into relevant categories to help you organize your tax information. As you receive or locate an item, check it off of the list.

Personal Information

Social Security Numbers

  • Yours___________________________________________
  • Your Spouse’s____________________________________
  • Dependents’______________________________________


Advance Child Tax Credit Payment

  • Copy of the IRS notice announcing the amount of your payment
  • Amount of the payment you received


Childcare Costs

  • Cancelled checks or invoices
  • Childcare provider’s name
  • Provider’s address
  • Provider’s tax ID or Social Security number

Education Costs

  • Receipts for tuition (or cancelled checks) for post-high school education
  • Tuition statement – Form 1098-T

Adoption Costs

  • Social Security number or ID number of adopted child
  • Receipts or cancelled checks for:
    • Legal fees
    • Transportation
    • Other costs

Income Tax Information

Income From Jobs

  • Forms W-2 for all employers for whom you and your spouse worked during the year

Investment Income

  • Interest income – Form 1099-INT
  • Dividend income – Form 1099-DIV
  • Proceeds from the sale of stocks, bonds, etc. – Form 1099-B
  • Confirmation slips or brokers’ statements for all stocks, etc., that you sold in 2007
  • Schedule(s) K-1 (Form 1065) from investments in partnerships
  • Schedule(s) K-1 (Form 1120S) from investments in S Corporations
  • Income from foreign investments: Amount of foreign taxes paid (you can find this on the brokers’ statements)____________________________________________
  • Income from stock option exercises and sales:
    • Stock option agreement (showing type of options you received)
    • Stock option statement showing exercise prices of options
    • Form 1099-B for proceeds from stock sales
  • Sale of employee stock purchase plan shares:
    • Form 1099-B for proceeds from stock sales
    • Stock price on grant date__________________________________________
    • Stock price on purchase date__________________________________________
    • If the stock sale occurred before qualifying period began, Form W-2 showing “compensation income” from a disqualifying disposition

Income from State and Local Income Tax Refunds

  • Form 1099-G from state or local governments
  • State income tax return from 2007, if any
  • City income tax return from 2007, if any

Alimony Received

  • Bank statements or record of deposits

Business or Farming Income

  • Books/accounting records for your business, OR:
  • Invoices or billings
  • Bank statements
  • Cancelled checks for expenses
  • Payroll records

In addition you will need:

  • Invoices for major purchases of machinery, equipment, furniture
  • Logs or other records listing vehicle mileage
  • Inventory records, if your business maintains an inventory of goods or materials

If You Use Your Home for Business

  • Square footage of your home office area
  • Total square footage of your home
  • Total rent paid, if home is rented
  • Mortgage interest reported on Form 1098
  • Property tax payments from assessor’s bill, cancelled checks, or impound records
  • Homeowner’s insurance premium payments
  • Invoices for repairs and maintenance on your house
  • Utility bills

IRA/Pension Distributions

  • Form 1099-R for payments from IRAs or retirement plans
  • Account summary form for the year for your IRA accounts, or
  • Deposit receipts and contribution records
  • If you received a distribution from an IRA account, the most-recently filed Form 8606 (if you made contributions in prior years to IRAs that weren’t deductible on your income tax return)

Rental Property Income

  • Profit and loss statements from your property manager, or
  • Checkbook or cancelled checks for expenses
  • Form 1099-MISC or other records for rental income paid to you
  • Mortgage interest reported on Form 1098
  • Property tax payments from assessor’s bill, cancelled checks, or impound records
  • Record of suspended rental losses from prior years (usually shown on last year’s income tax return)

Unemployment Income

  • Form 1099-G from your state unemployment agency, or
  • Unemployment check stubs and deposit records

Social Security Benefits

  • Form SSA-1099

Income from Sales of Property

If the property was sold in 2008:

  • Sales proceeds: Bill of sale, escrow statement, closing statement or other records
  • Cost of the property you sold: Invoices, receipts, or cancelled checks
  • Improvements made to the property: Invoices or construction contracts and cancelled checks
  • Form 1099-C if your lender cancelled or forgave a portion of your debt. Normally considered taxable income, debt forgiveness on your principal residence is exempt from federal taxes through 2012 (you’ll need Form 982).

If the property was sold at a profit before 2008 on the installment basis:

  • Previous year’s return – Form 6252, Installment Sales
  • Amount of principal collected on the installment note owed to you and the date you received each payment_____________________________________________
  • Amount of interest collected on the note________________________________________________
  • Name, address, and Social Security number of the buyer

________________________________________________ ________________________________________________ ________________________________________________

Miscellaneous Income

  • Jury duty pay records
  • Form(s) W-2G for gambling and lottery winnings
  • Receipts for all gambling purchases
  • Form 1099-MISC for prizes and awards you received
  • Form 1099-SA for distributions from medical savings accounts and/or health savings accounts
  • Scholarship records (if you used the money for anything other than tuition, books, and supplies)
  • Director’s fees receipts if you received money for serving on a corporate board of directors


IRA Contributions

  • Year-end account summary or bank statements

Student Loan Interest

  • Form 1098-E showing interest paid, or
  • Loan statements

Medical Savings Account Contributions

  • Account statements or
  • Cancelled checks

Moving Expenses

  • Invoices from moving companies or
  • Cancelled checks and
  • Paycheck stub for moving expense reimbursements

Self-employed Health Insurance

  • Insurance premium bills, or
  • Cancelled checks

Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE, and Other Self-employed Pension Plans

  • Year-end account summary, or
  • Cancelled checks

Alimony Paid

  • Cancelled checks

Educator Expenses

  • Cancelled checks for expenses paid for classroom supplies, etc.

Itemized Tax Deductions

Interest You Paid

Home mortgage interest:

  • Form 1098, or
  • Your mortgage statement or bill for January 2009


  • Form 1098 if you purchased a home in 2008
  • Your 2007 tax return if you refinanced in prior year and are deducting points on that loan over its life

Investment interest expense:

  • Brokers’ statements showing margin interest paid
  • Loan statements for loans taken out to purchase investments

Charitable Donations

Cash donations:

  • Charity bills, receipts, or cancelled checks
  • Records of the mileage incurred for charitable purposes (such as Scouts).

Donations of Property:

  • Receipts from charitable agency
  • Estimated value of property given
  • Appraisal fees for expensive donations

Other charitable donations:

  • Prior years’ tax returns if you have unused charitable contributions (carryovers) from earlier years
  • Year-end paycheck stub if donations were paid through your wages

Casualty and Theft Losses

  • Description of property damaged or stolen
  • Receipts or cancelled checks showing cost of property
  • Insurance policy and insurance reports showing reimbursement
  • Appraisal fees if applicable

Job Expenses

  • Reimbursement check stubs or reports from your employer
  • Union dues – paycheck stub for automatic withdrawals
  • Gifts to clients, etc. – receipts showing date, cost, and description
  • Supplies – receipts or bills
  • Property purchased for use in your work – invoices, receipts
  • Uniform and special clothing costs – bills or paycheck stubs showing deductions
  • Seminar fees – receipts or invoices
  • Professional publications and books – receipts or invoices
  • Receipts for small tools and supplies you purchased Job travel information:
    • Invoices, receipts, or ticket stubs for transportation
    • Mileage records per vehicle used
    • Hotel bills
    • Restaurant tickets showing name and address of establishment
    • Parking fee receipts
  • Job search expenses:
    • Long-distance call bills
    • Resume costs (printing, mailing, resume service, etc.)
    • Transportation bills and mileage records
    • Employment agency fees
    • Career counseling costs
  • Job-related educational expenses:
    • Tuition, fee, and book receipts for education that maintains or improves your present skills
    • Transportation receipts
    • Lodging receipts if you take classes away from home

Other Miscellaneous Tax Deductions

  • Tax return preparation fees – invoices or cancelled checks
  • Cost of income tax return preparation software and books – receipts or cancelled checks
  • Safe deposit box rental fees from bank invoice or statement
  • IRA custodial fees (if paid from a non-IRA account)
  • Payroll records for office workers managing your investments
  • Investment advice costs: invoices or bills

Medical and Dental Expenses

  • Medical bills or cancelled checks
  • Form SSA-1099 for Medicare premiums paid from your social security benefits
  • Year-end pay stub if premiums were paid through your wages (only if the deductions were after-tax)
  • Mileage records for trips to the doctor, clinics, etc. For 2008, the standard mileage rate for medical-related driving during the first six months is 19 cents per mile; for medical-related driving in July through December you can deduct 27 cents per mile.


State and Local Income Taxes

  • Last year’s state income tax return
  • Forms W-2
  • Cancelled checks for state estimates paid

Real Estate Taxes

  • Tax collector bills or cancelled checks
  • Form 1098 or closing statement if you bought, sold, or refinanced property in the current year

Personal Property Taxes

  • Tax bills or cancelled checks
  • Automobile licensing bills, if fees are charged annually based on value

Information on Household Employees

  • Wages paid during 2008
  • Completed W-9 Form from your employee showing his or her Social Scurity Number or other Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)

Tax Payments

  • Quarterly estimated tax payments – Records showing the date paid and amount
  • If you applied a tax overpayment from 2007 to 2008 – your 2007 income tax return
  • If you filed or plan on filing extensions for your 2008 tax return – Cancelled checks for payments you made with the extension

Direct Deposit Information

You can have your tax refund deposited directly in up to three different accounts, including an IRA. You will need your:

  • Routing number from the lower left side of one of your checks (usually the first nine digits)
  • Bank account number from the bottom of the check or on a bank statement

Foreign Bank Account Information

  • Name of financial institution
  • Location of financial institution
  • Account number
  • Maximum value of account

Hybrid or Clean Diesel Auto Purchases

  • Bill of sale for a hybrid automobile purchased in 2008

Content provided by Kiplinger, courtesy of TurboTax, a registered trademark of Intuit Inc.