Happy New Year! - Now It's Tax Season

It's that time of the year when your income tax documents start arriving in the mail.

Some will document income earned that you need to report on your income tax return. Others will document deductions you can claim on your income tax return.

You should expect to receive most of your 2011 tax documents by early to mid-February 2012. Everyone's situation is different. In general, most people receive certain common tax documents:

  • Employers will send you W-2 forms.
  • If you freelance, each client for whom you have completed at least $600 worth of work should send you a 1099-MISC form.
  • If you've earned dividends on mutual funds or other investments, you should receive one or more 1099-DIV forms from the account administrator.
  • If you earned interest on your checking or savings account, you should receive a Form 1099-INT.
  • If you have a mortgage, you will receive a Form 1098 from your mortgage company, itemizing the deductible interest you paid in 2011.

You may receive other income tax-related forms as well.

In preparation for income tax filing, you will need any tax documents reporting income and deductions, such as mortgage interest or student loan interest. Also, find your receipts for deductible expenses, such as medical bills, and for any charitable donations you made during the year.

If you are self-employed, gather receipts for all deductible business expenses. Check out IRS Publication 535 for a complete list of business expenses.

Looking ahead to next year at this time, while you're digging up all these records, sort everything, and create files to hold your:

  • Bills
  • Bank, credit card and retirement account statements
  • Receipts for deductible items and charitable donations

Keep things sorted as they come in during 2012. That way, next year's income tax return should be easier to prepare.

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