The Documents You Need Before You File Your Taxes

—The deadline to file your 2016 tax returns is April 18—

Every tax season you follow the same process: You hunt and gather for documents, receipts, and statements, and hope you didn’t miss out on any tax deductions or credits where due. 

This year, make it a little easier on yourself with our ultimate tax checklist. Your friends at The Credit Cleanup Newsletter scoured multiple lists across the internet to help you get organized and prepared for when you’re ready to file your tax returns. 

Some items in our checklist will vary depending on whether you take standard or itemized deductions. If you’re unsure of which tax strategy will give you a bigger refund, consult your CPA, this article, or this article. Also, tax filing software, such as TurboTax or TaxAct, usually have built-in tax estimators to help you figure out the proper tax method.

In any case, it’s a good idea to gather all the checklist documents so you’re prepared. 

Now, Here’s the Ultimate Tax Document Checklist of the Most Common Tax Documents and Why You Need Them When You File Your Tax Returns

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Ultimate Tax Checklist in Emojis


Can't see the graphic? Here's the full list:

  • W-2: You were an employee of a company
  • NEW Form 1095-A: You purchased health coverage from a Government Marketplace as a result of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which gave states the ability to offer healthcare to residents
  • 1098: You paid mortgage interest on property that you own
  • 1098-E: You paid student loan bills
  • 1098-T: You paid for college or university tuition 
  • SSA-1099: You received Social Security benefits
  • Form 1099-B: You had gains or losses on securities transactions
  • 1099-C: You had a loan forgiven, also known as cancellation of debt canceled
  • 1099-D: You received investment income from dividends
  • 1099-INT: You received income from interest payments (because you had an interest-bearing checking, savings, or money market account)
  • 1099-MISC: You received compensation as an independent contractor, or payment as a non-employee from any entity/company/organization 
  • 1099-R: You took distributions from a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or IRA, or rolled over funds from one retirement account to another 
  • W-2G: You won money from gambling. You lucky rat! (And yes, you must pay taxes on this money)

Also consider these documents: 

  • HUD-1 Settlement Statements: You sold any primary, secondary, or investment propert
  • Schedule K-1: You have an ownership interest in a company or companies (e.g., S corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts or estates). Note that some companies send these forms out later in the year, even later than traditional tax filing deadlines. 

Additional Itemized Deduction Documents:

  • Receipts for medical expenses, including what you paid for prescriptions, doctors, dentists, eyeglasses, insurance)
  • eceipts for Charitable Contributions, if claiming more than $250
  • Receipts for un-reimbursed job expenses
  • Amounts paid for any union/professional/membership fees and dues, job-related educational costs, investment expenses, and job search expenses
  • Expenses for work uniforms, safe deposit boxes, and tax preparation fees
  • Moving expenses
  • Adoption expenses
  • Amounts paid for alimony and childcare
  • And that’s it! Of course, these are just the most comment documents. More complex tax situations may require the help of a CPA and/or additional documents.