Tax prep checklist: Collect these forms before filing your taxes

Every year, it can pay off to get organized and gather your tax documents early, both because you’re likely to receive your tax refund sooner and you’ll avoid the stress of scrambling at the last minute.

This is important because the Internal Revenue Service has been particularly slow in recent years, according to Dan Johnson, professor of economics and business at Colorado College.

“The IRS is clearly understaffed this year,” Johnson says, adding, “I would expect delays across the board.”

To help you get a leg up on tax prep, whether you’re tapping a tax professional to prepare your return or doing it yourself, here’s all the information and documents you’ll need to gather.

[READ: The Benefits of Filing Taxes Early.]

What Tax Forms Do I Need to File Taxes?

Note that employers are required to issue W-2s by Jan. 31. If you are self-employed, that deadline also applies to 1099 forms. Here are more details on some of the most common tax forms you may need to gather, and if you have a working spouse, and you’re both filing jointly, you both may need some of these forms:

Form 1040: This is the form that you fill out to file your IRS tax return. If you use tax preparation software, a tax preparation service or a tax accountant — they’ll all have it, and you don’t need to get it yourself. If you are doing this yourself, your library probably has a Form 1040. Or you can go to the IRS website to print out or fill it out online.

W-2: If you work for an employer, you can expect to receive a W-2, which shows how much you earned last year and how much was deducted for taxes and any other withholding.

1099-NEC: You can expect to receive this 1099 form if you work as a freelancer or if you did contract work in 2022.

1099-K: Some freelancers and gig workers for companies like Uber, Lyft or Airbnb should look out for this form. The 1099-K form reports income that passes through third-party networks, such as transactions that go through PayPal or debit cards or credit card processors. It should be noted that, “Money received through third party payment networks from friends and relatives as personal gifts or reimbursements for personal expenses is not taxable,” according to the IRS website. So if a friend sends you money over Venmo for the chicken dinner you treated them to last week, you don’t have to report that.

Other 1099 forms: If you earned interest from savings or investments, you may receive a 1099-INT form. You could also receive a 1099-DIV, which reports dividends and distributions from investments. If you receive a 1099-C, you had some debt of $600 or more canceled.

1098: Those who own a home and pay mortgage interest will receive Form 1098 from their mortgage lender. It will show the amount of mortgage interest a homeowner paid and can deduct. It may also show the property taxes paid over the year as well any points paid, both of which are tax-deductible.

1098-E: This is a form that records tax-deductible student loan interest payments over $600. (You can deduct up to $2,500 worth of student loan interest.) If you paid less than $600, you may not receive a 1098-E, but if you find out what amount of interest you paid, you can deduct it. If you need the form, your loan servicer should send it to you.

1098-T: The 1098-T can be used to help you calculate and claim educational tax credits and deductions. It reports payments received for qualified tuition and related education expenses that you may have paid last year. You’ll also need to include scholarships or grants. If you need to fill this out, your school or child’s school should send this to you.

[SEE: Every Tax Deadline You Need to Know.]

What Other Documents Do I Need?

Of course, the federal government, your employer, your college and so on won’t send you all of your tax paperwork. You’ll want to take note of these other documents that you may need as you start preparing your taxes.

Supporting information for tax deductions and credits. If you plan to take advantage of tax deductions and tax credits, you’ll want to have the documents that ensure you qualify. This could include documentation or receipts related to child care, medical expenses and job search costs, depending on the credit or deduction you’re claiming. If you’re claiming a mileage tax deduction, for example, you’ll want to have a log including dates, destinations and reasons for travel.

Social Security numbers for family members. Make sure you have your accurate Social Security number as well as that of your spouse and dependents. If you had a baby in 2022, make sure you have a Social Security number to claim child tax credits.

Contribution information. Remember to collect documentation on retirement plan contributions that are tax-deductible. If you contributed to a 529 plan in 2022 and your state offers a tax benefit, you’ll want to keep that information on hand for your state, but not federal, taxes.

Charitable donations. Gather any receipts for charitable contributions you made during the year. You don’t need to send these to the IRS, but in case of an audit, you’ll want to prove that you contributed what you claimed.

Last year’s tax returns. You don’t need to have them on hand, especially if you’re working with tax preparation software year after year (the service will or should have them), or if you’re working with your tax accountant (who should also have them). But if you’re doing your taxes yourself, it might not hurt to be able to look back at them.

Estimated tax payments that you sent to the government. Do you work for yourself? If you don’t have a tax preparation software service or tax accountant who has this information, you’ll need to supply it to the IRS. If you work for a company, your taxes come out of your paycheck.

Your bank account information. Do you want your refund sent to you via direct deposit? You’ll need to provide the IRS with that information.

[New Income Tax Brackets for 2023 May Save You Money]

Some New Changes to Be Aware Of

Every year, there is some new change to be on the lookout for when it comes to filing your taxes, and in that sense, this year won’t disappoint.

“Here is the major issue for (tax year) 2022,” says Sheri Geddes, associate professor of accounting at Hope College.

“The child tax credit reset to pre-pandemic levels of $2,000 per child for 2022,” Geddes says. “That is a decline from 2021 when the credit was $3,600 for children under the age of 6 and $3,000 for children ages six through seventeen. Because a tax credit directly reduces the amount of taxes owed dollar for dollar, this will have an adverse impact on 2022 tax filers.”

In other words, when it comes to taxes and your kids, you aren’t going to get as much of tax break as you did the year before.

But there are some other changes to be aware of before you dive into working on that IRS tax return, according to the IRS website:

— “No above-the-line charitable deductions. During COVID, taxpayers could take up to a $600 charitable donation tax deduction on their tax returns. However, in 2022, those who take a standard deduction may not take an above-the-line deduction for charitable donations.”

“More people may be eligible for the Premium Tax Credit. For tax year 2022, taxpayers may still qualify for temporarily expanded eligibility for the premium tax credit.”

— “Eligibility rules changed to claim a tax credit for clean vehicles. Review the changes under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to qualify for a Clean Vehicle Credit,” the IRS website advises.

More from U.S. News

9 Red Flags That Could Trigger a Tax Audit

Important Dates to Mark on Your Personal Finance Calendar

States With No Income Tax

Tax Prep Checklist: Collect These Forms Before Filing Your Taxes originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 01/11/23: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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