Income Tax Preparation Checklist

by Denise Caldwell

Many taxpayers arrive at their tax preparer’s office only to discover that they’ve forgotten a piece of information necessary for filing their return. Part of the reason for this is that the filing process is complex and often, taxpayers are confused as to what information is needed to complete their return. Use this checklist to help simplify the filing process.

Social Security Numbers

Gather the Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse and all dependents who will be listed on your income tax return. It is a good idea to retrieve these numbers from the actual Social Security cards and not from memory so as to avoid transposing any of the numbers. If you provide the IRS with an incorrect Social Security number for someone listed on your return, it will delay the processing of your return.

Income Information

Gather your income information, 1099s and W-2s, prior to filing your income tax return. If your employer neglected to send you your W-2, contact it and request a duplicate. If your employer fails to send you a duplicate, then contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 with the name, address and phone number of your employer and the dates of your employment. Then complete IRS Form 4852 and use it as a substitute for your W-2 form.

Bank Routing Numbers

If you are due a refund and opt for the direct deposit option, then you’ll need both your bank account number and routing number when you file your return.

Birth Dates

Compile the birth dates of everyone listed on your return and have these dates available at the time of your filing.

Interest and Dividend Statements

Most of your interest and dividend amounts are either tax deductible or taxable. For example, your stock dividends are taxable and must be included on your Schedule D and your 1040. However, your mortgage interest is tax deductible. Thus, gather all of these statements before beginning your return.

Day Care Infomation

The expenses you pay to your day care provider, if any, are tax deductible if paid during a period where you are working or looking for work. However, you will need your day care provider’s Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number to claim the deduction.

Moving Expenses

If you moved to relocate for your job or business, then you may be eligible to deduct those expenses on your return. Gather all receipts pertinent to your move and have them handy at the time you file your return.

About the Author

Denise Caldwell is a finance writer who has been writing on taxation and finance since 2006. Her articles appear regularly on websites such as and She has taken what she learned while working at the IRS to provide readers with helpful tax and finance tips. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University.

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