What Do I Need to File Taxes? A List of All The Documents to Have

Learn what do you need to file taxes with the IRS.

Tax filing can feel like a never-ending stack of paperwork. If you want to optimize your time during tax season, having a checklist helps ensure you have the tax documents ready to file your tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.

This checklist can help you reduce your time if you file your own taxes. It can also save your accountant time and energy if you use tax preparation services. Read on and find out which documents you need to file taxes.

Tax Preparation Checklist

A checklist for all the information you need can make the tax preparation process easier. Often, the income and tax figures are provided to you on special forms, but sometimes you have to rely on your own records. Although most people have their taxable income reported to them  and the IRS  on official forms, you are required to report all of your taxable income, even if you don’t receive a form.

For example, a company only has to prepare a W-2 for you if you earned more than $600. However, if you earned $500, you’re still required to report that income on your tax return even though you likely won’t receive a W-2.

Here’s a tax-filing checklist of all the information you need to file your tax return:

Personal Identifying Information

  • Your name, address and Social Security number
  • Your spouse’s name and Social Security number, if applicable

Dependent Information

  • Social Security number or taxpayer identification number and birthdate for each dependent
  • Form 8832 from the custodial parent if you are a noncustodial parent entitled to claim a child as your dependent for the year

Income from Working

  • W-2 from each job
  • Self-employment records, such as Form 1099-MISC, records of business income received or business expenses paid for your own business
  • Royalty income (reported on Form 1099-MISC)

Learn: How to File Self-Employment Taxes

Investment Income

  • Rental income records, including income, expenses and depreciation
  • Interest income received (reported on Form 1099-INT)
  • Capital gains (often reported on Form 1099-B) and other investment income like dividends (reported on Form 1099-DIV)

Distributions from Special Accounts

Other Income

  • Alimony received or paid
  • Unemployment benefits or state income tax refunds (reported on Form 1099-G)
  • Gambling Income (reported on Form W-2G)
  • Prizes and awards
  • Jury duty payments
  • Distributions from 529 Plans and Coverdell educational savings accounts (reported on Form 1099-Q)

Related: Taxable Income You Must Report to Avoid an IRS Audit 

Childcare Costs

  • Fees paid to childcare providers, including day care centers and individual providers
  • Social Security number of any individuals who provided childcare

Job-Related Expenses

  • Employment expenses like union dues, trade magazines, tools and uniforms (including cleaning); if you have a qualifying home office, the portion of the house it uses and its square footage could also get you a deduction
  • Travel costs including mileage, tolls, gas, maintenance, taxes and parking; if you have to travel long distances, it could also include airfare and hotels
  • Classroom expenses for teachers and other educational professionals from kindergarten to grade 12
  • Moving expenses when the move was related to a new job

Tax Preparation Costs

  • Records of what you paid for your tax return preparation the prior year

Educational Costs

  • Educational costs for yourself and anyone you claim as a dependent (often reported on Form 1098-T)
  • Scholarships received
  • Student loan interest paid (reported on Form 1098-E)
  • Contributions to educational savings accounts (reported on Form 5498-ESA)

Healthcare-Related Records

Charitable Contributions

  • Receipts for donations of cash and property to charities
  • Mileage driven for charitable purposes

Learn: How to Know If You Can Really Write Off That Donation

Retirement Savings

  • Contributions to IRAs (reported on Form 5498)

Real Property Costs (including your primary residence)

  • Mortgage interest paid (reported on Form 1098)
  • Mortgage points paid (reported on Form 1098)
  • Mortgage insurance premiums (reported on Form 1098)
  • Real estate taxes paid
  • Records of energy-saving improvements
  • Records of any property losses or insurance claims

Deductible Taxes

  • State and local income taxes paid during the calendar year
  • State and local sales taxes paid (you can estimate this with the IRS calculator)
  • Personal property taxes paid
  • Foreign income taxes

Federal Disaster Area Provisions

  • Property that was hit by a natural disaster
  • You might qualify for special tax relief

Tax Deductions 2017: 50 Tax Write-Offs You Don’t Know About