Every year within the independent tax and accounting business community in our state (and on various online channels), we have a little fun laughing at the newest TurboTax or Block commercials. Last year, it was “all people are tax people”. This year, they’re promoting their “live” feature with commercials of a floating desk answering various deduction questions.
It’s clever, but it glides over what it is and isn’t — relying upon software to do your taxes can be a very expensive mistake. And that’s not even mentioning the armies of bored, underpaid “tax experts” who are “at your disposal”, apparently.
Now, if you’ll pardon the slightly shameless plug…
Every year here at Emelia Mensa, CPA, we unwind the messes of dozens (or more) of our tax clients who went this self-prepared, software route — and who missed out on the kind of personalized attention that we provide here. Yes, they have experts that will “file for you” …
… but there is MUCH more to a tax strategy than simple “filing”.
The GOOD news is that we can go back and amend tax returns for tax clients here in our community and around the country from the last 3 years, so if this is you, no shame — we’ll fix this stuff for you, and ensure you get back everything you deserve to.
Here’s where you can reach us:
Now, the IRS announced last Friday that actual filing begins on February 12. This is a few weeks later than normal (it’s typically around the third week of January). This MAY have to do with the recently issued Treasury Inspector General Report, and the fact that the IRS is apparently understaffed, overstretched and waaaay behind on collections notices, and other such things.
(Which is another reason to work directly with a local tax pro; we have a specialized line to the IRS and can often contact them on your behalf. We still have to wait on long hold times, but it’s far superior to the general public lines.)
But that gives us time to ensure that everything is properly handled, and every possible deduction is taken.
Here’s how you can start…
“What Do I Need For My 2020 Taxes?”
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” -Pablo Picasso
Filing your taxes on your own is not for the faint of heart. That’s even with nice-looking softwares on the market which purport to make it easy for you.
But that’s what we’re here for. Let *us* make it easy for you.
Below is a list of what you (and most taxpayers) will need during the tax preparation process. Not all of them will apply to you — probably MOST will not. Nonetheless, it’s a useful checklist.
Before you get overwhelmed: yes, this is a long list — but it’s the unfortunate reality of our tax code that it’s not even comprehensive! These items will cover 95% of our clients. Really, this is for ensuring that we’re able to help you keep every dollar you can keep under our tax code.
Also note: There are certain CARES Act (stimulus) and CAA (second stimulus) items that you will need to know as well. I’ve notated them in italics.
But again … we will be your guide. That’s what we’re here for.
Even if for some strange reason you won’t be using our cost-effective services this year, feel free to use this list as a handy guide…
Social Security Numbers (including spouse and children)
Child care provider tax I.D. or Social Security Number
Employment & Income Data
-Amount of CARES Act (1st Stimulus) payment received – paid ~ April/May 2020 ($1,200 per adult, $500 per child)
-Amount of CAA (2nd Stimulus) payment received – paid ~ early January 2021 ($600 per adult & child)
W-2 forms for this year
Tax refunds and unemployment compensation: Form 1099-G
Miscellaneous income including rent: Form 1099-MISC
Partnership and trust income
Pensions and annuities
Jury duty pay
Gambling and lottery winnings
Prizes and awards
Scholarships and fellowships
State and local income tax refunds
Health Insurance Information
NOTE — As it says on the IRS health insurance information page, form 1040 will not have the “full-year health care coverage or exempt” box and Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, will no longer be used. You need not make a shared responsibility payment or file Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, with your tax return if you didn’t have minimum essential coverage for part or all of 2020.
* All 1095-A Forms from Marketplace providers (if you purchased insurance through a Marketplace)
* Records of credits and/or advance payments received from the Premium Tax Credit (if claiming)
Residential address(es) for this year
Mortgage interest: Form 1098
Sale of your home or other real estate: Form 1099-S
Second mortgage interest paid
Real estate taxes paid
Rent paid during tax year
Moving expenses (if in active military, and moving for new orders)
Reimbursements for moving (counts as ordinary income)
Interest income statements: Form 1099-INT & 1099-OID
Dividend income statements: Form 1099-DIV
Proceeds from broker transactions: Form 1099-B
Retirement plan distribution: Form 1099-R
Capital gains or losses
Auto loans and leases (account numbers and car value) if vehicle used for business
Student loan interest paid
Early withdrawal penalties on CDs and other fixed time deposits
Personal property tax information
Department of Motor Vehicles fees
Gifts to charity (receipts for any single donations of $250 or more)
Unreimbursed expenses related to volunteer work
Education expenses (tuition and fees)
Child care expenses
Medical Savings Accounts
Number of Days you were unable to work due to being quarantined due to the COV virus or due to symptoms of COV, including time while waiting for test results (do not include days reimbursed by an employer)
Number of Days you were unable to work due to caring for a family member who was quarantined due to COV or caring for a child due to the closure of a childcare facility / school
Estimated tax vouchers for the current year
Self-employment SEP plans
Self-employed health insurance
K-1s on all partnerships
Receipts or documentation for business-related expenses
State and local income taxes (note: $10,000 limit, as last year)
IRA, Keogh and other retirement plan contributions
Other miscellaneous deductions
An important thing to understand is that we will guide you through the process, and that although much has changed this year, we are on top of these changes on your behalf.
We’re here to help. Let me know if you have any questions.
Emelia Mensa EA, CPA