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Tax-Time Checklist

As Published In Smead Organomics
Tax-Time Checklist

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

Most people fear tax time because they dread having to gather up all that paperwork — certain that they will overlook something vital and mess up their bottom line. Reduce your worries by following this step-by-step organizing checklist as you begin to prepare your return.

Begin With General Information

  • number of dependents — children under age 18, college students, others you support financially
  • social security numbers for each family member
  • tax return and supporting documents from the previous year
  • tax preparation instructions for the current tax year
  • proof of IRA contributions for the year

Count Up Your Charitable Deductions

  • add up your mileage driving to and from volunteer activities
  • tally other volunteer expenses (items bought with your money and used in your charitable duties)
  • figure out your total cash donations (list the organization, donation date, and amount for each)
  • add up all qualified in-kind donations (non-cash goods & services) to approved charities
  • count mileage to drop off donations
  • gather receipts for all donations — $500 or more (cash or in-kind) requires special documentation
  • double check the IRS rules before deducting

If You Have Children

  • get your paid childcare provider’s tax ID and social security number
  • you may be able to count expenses as a deduction (nanny, babysitters, after school programs)
  • if you have adopted a child, you may be able to count adoption expenses
  • you may be able to deduct education expenses andstudent loans

Proof Of Income

  • W-2 forms from employers
  • 1099 forms from self-employment and contract work
  • alimony received
  • unemployment compensation
  • business or farm earnings
  • income from partnerships or trusts
  • income from real estate
  • federal, state, and local income tax refunds
  • income from pensions and annuities
  • interest/dividend income from investments, savings accounts, etc.
  • prize money won

Other Miscellaneous Deductions

  • you may be able to count your tax return preparation costs as a deduction
  • if you are divorced, tally up any alimony paid
  • medical and dental expenses (if you are eligible for a medical deduction)
  • mortgage interest paid on your personal or rental properties
  • moving costs (if your relocation is eligible for a deduction
  • unreimbursed employment expenses (travel, lodging, etc.)
  • taxes paid that year

If You Own A Business

  • supply and equipment expenses (you may have to depreciate large equipment expenses)
  • home office expenses — plus the allotted portion of your household utilities and rent/mortgage
  • mileage and other business travel expenses (meals, hotel, parking, etc.)
  • marketing (advertising, networking event attendance, printing, mailing, etc.)
  • administrative and outsourcing costs
  • payroll and employment expenses
  • sales tax paid
  • payroll and employment expenses
  • professional development and continuing ed (classes, workshops, manuals, etc.)
  • automobile loan or lease if the car is used exclusively or primarily for business
  • other professional and business expenses

Talk To Your CPA

This information is not meant to replace qualified legal advice. You may not be eligible for all of these deductions — but a CPA can tell you which deductions to take, and advise you as to any limits on your deductions. Always have a qualified CPA prepare or review your return to prevent errors.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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