January has come and gone which means a) the year is racing by, b) most people have already bagged their new year’s resolutions, c) you have gotten a bunch of tax forms in the mail, or d) all of the above?
If you picked “d,” you are a winner! The year is racing by, everybody, except you, has bagged those resolutions, and you do now have a stack of tax forms, or will soon because the mail date is upon us. So, in honor of all those busy beavers who worked so hard to prepare those tax forms, let’s have a quick run-through of what they are, what they mean, and how you can get them all organized now and avoid the April rush.
To help you and your tax accountant prepare that tax return with ease, grab a couple of large envelopes and let’s sort through those forms and add a few other things that you will need.
Label one envelope “Income Items.” In that envelope will go:
- W-2’s – the form that you received from your employer if you worked as an employee. Take a quick peek and make sure the income number matches what your total salary and bonus is. Does any 401k contribution show up correctly? Do you have questions about any of the information that is shown? If you do or if anything seems amiss, now is the time to contact HR so that you can straighten out any errors.
- 1099’s – There are a whole slew of potential 1099s that you can get. The most common are 1099-INT or DIV which come from your investment and bank accounts. There is usually also a section with the 1099-B if you sold any securities during the year. 1099-R means that you took money out of an IRA or other retirement account. 1099-G is the form that you will get if you got a state income tax refund in the prior year. 1099-MISC means that you performed contract work for someone and will likely need to include a schedule C for nonemployee income. Be sure to include all 1099s in your income envelope as there are quite a few other varieties – all of which are important.
- K-1 – these forms come from being a partner. This will show your share of the income, deductions and credits. Be sure to take a good look and make sure that the ownership percentage and other details appear accurate. If you have questions about the information that appears, be sure to contact the managing partner to get details or clarification.
- Include any other forms or details of income that you received during the year.
If you have your own business, you will want to include a complete financial statement from the business. Label a second envelope “Business” and include all of the details from your business.
- If you use your car for business, make sure you have a mileage or other log to show the business miles driven, including who you met with (or the activity performed), dates and the mileage to and from. If you didn’t have a great log last year, now is the time to set one up for 2016!
I’m sure you got other forms in the mail that relate to potential deductible expenses as well. Be sure to label another envelope “Deductions” and include all of those things. I’ll go into more details on those items another time, but, for now, set aside a few minutes and get all of the income pieces of your tax return organized. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task if you take it piece by piece and knock it out a bit at a time.
We know how fast the year is speeding along, and April will be upon us in the blink of an eye so avoid the stress and get yourself organized now. You’ll be glad that you did.
To our financial (and tax) success!