Electronic folders

Get Organized for Tax Season 2019

The 2019 tax return season is upon us!  Now is the perfect time to get a jump start on getting organized for preparing your tax returns. 

The most important items to focus on when compiling your 2019 tax documents are items that have changed this year compared to last year.  Those new or changed items may impact your 2019 tax situation. 

Some of the life changes to look out for include:

  • You got married or divorced
  • You had or adopted a child or changed the number of your dependents
  • You changed jobs or income
  • You started a business
  • You retired
  • You made early withdrawals from a retirement account
  •  You sold substantial assets like stock or a house
  • You inherited substantial funds or assets
  • You rented out a property
  • You moved to a new state as a military spouse
  • You moved to a foreign country

Use this checklist to help you get organized:

With these materials in hand, you will be ready to tackle your 2019 returns or turn the organized materials over to your tax return preparer for them to do the heavy lifting.

1. Make 2019 Tax Folders

  • Start a physical folder for 2019 tax-related mail
  • Create an electronic folder on your computer or device (or a password-protected/encrypted folder in cloud storage) for 2019 tax information
  • Scan in or take photos of any tax-related physical mail to save in the electronic folder
  • Save any PDFs or electronic tax documents to the relevant electronic folder
  • Create a folder in your email program for 2019 Taxes for tax-related communications

2. Reconcile Books & Accounts

  • Categorize all transactions
  • Separate business from personal expenses
  • Record any business expenses in business accounting records
  • Fix any mistakes and resolve any issues
  • Reconcile all bank and credit card accounts

3. Business Expenses

  • Ensure all business expenses are entered into accounting software or chart
  • Include in business expenses any applicable cell phone and/or internet payments and business percentage
  • Fix any mistakes and resolve any issues
  • Reconcile all bank and credit card transactions
  • Run an Income Statement (Profit and Loss)
  • Run a Balance Sheet (Assets, Liabilities and Equity)
  • List any questions about deductibility of expenses to review with your tax preparer
  • If claiming home office expenses, measure home office square footage and total home square footage; list all home expenses attributable to office, such as rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance
  • If claiming vehicle expenses, review your mileage log for the year (including total mileage and business mileage) and list any actual vehicle expenses
  • Collect any documents related to change in entity type (such as forming an LLC, electing S Corp classification)
  • If you are involved in a partnership or S Corporation, obtain Schedule K-1s

4. Family Expenses

  • Collect all receipts for childcare expenses if you work
  • Collect all applicable adoption expenses, including employer adoption reimbursement details
  • Collect all materials relating to education expenses for your children, including scholarship and fellowship information
  • Collect all materials related to earned and unearned income attributable to your children

5. Rental Properties

  • Create a list of all rental income and expenses
  • Include any mileage and travel expenses for working on rental property
  • Include any repairs made to rental property
  • Include any management fees
  • Collect receipts for all rental expenses in one file
  • Ensure you have the depreciation schedule from your 2018 tax return

6. Sale or Purchase of Home

  • Collect all closing statement materials and any 1099 forms received related to the sale
  • List original purchase price
  • List all dates you lived in the property, dates rented the property, dates you did not live in the property due to a military PCS
  • Ensure you have any depreciation schedules for any rental periods from your 2018 tax return

7. Federal and State Tax Agency Communications

  • Collect any materials received from state or federal tax agencies, such as state tax refund notices, state or federal delinquency notices, and similar
  • Advise your tax preparer of any recent communications, notices, or penalty issues
  • Advise your tax preparer of any unfiled or late returns for prior years