What Should I Do Before My Tax Planning Meeting?

Tax time is a major stressor for many Americans, with 48% indicating that they worry about paying their taxes. While taxes can certainly present some complexities, there’s no reason to dread this time of year. With the right tax planner in your corner, you can approach tax time as a much-needed opportunity to check in on your finances, evaluate your situation, and make wise plans for the future. Proper preparation will help you make the most of your tax planning meeting so you can enjoy a stress-free experience.

Gather Essential Documents

Gathering the necessary documents is the most important thing you need to do before a tax appointment. If you don’t have this information in hand, you won’t be able to complete your taxes.

Personal Details

You must have personal information and details for yourself and everyone in your household. This includes:

  • Social security numbers.
  • Birth dates.
  • Tax ID numbers.

Income Documents

Bring all applicable documents pertaining to your income. If you work full-time for an employer, this may be as simple as your W-2. If you’re a gig worker, these documents get more complex. Some examples of income paperwork that you may need include:

  • W-2 and W-2 G forms.
  • 1099-MISC and 1099-K forms.
  • Bank statements regarding interest from savings.
  • Investment statements regarding dividends.
  • Documentation of income from rental properties.
  • Documentation of lottery winnings.
  • Documentation of alimony.

Expense Records

You need to detail all applicable expenses so you can deduct these from your income and only pay taxes on the appropriate portion of what you made. Some key documents that will help include:

  • Mortgage interest statement (Form 1098).
  • Receipts from charitable contributions and associated forms such as 1098-C.
  • Records of tuition, school fees, and student loans, such as forms 1098-E and 1098-T.
  • Documentation of alimony payments.
  • Records of estimated taxes paid.
  • Documentation of job-related expenses.
  • Records of child care expenses.
  • Records of medical and dental expenses exceeding 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

Health Insurance Forms

If you purchase your insurance through the health insurance marketplace, you will need to bring Form 1095-A. If you get health insurance through your employer or another insurer, you should bring Form 1095-B or 1095-C. These documents detail exactly how much you’ve paid for your health insurance over the year.

Information on Retirement Accounts

If you have retirement savings, these also need to be accounted for in your taxes. Bring all records about accounts such as your:

  • 401(k).
  • SEP IRA.
  • Roth IRA.

Mortgage Forms

If you have a mortgage, you’ll receive Form 1098, your mortgage income statement. This details the interest you’ve paid on your mortgage over the year. This form allows you to take deductions related to your mortgage insurance premiums and points paid as well. If you paid less than $600 in interest over the year, however, your lender is not required to file this form. 

Previous Tax Returns

If you’re meeting with a tax planner you haven’t worked with before, you should bring your last three years of tax returns. This will help your tax planner get a clear idea of where you’re coming from, how you prepared for the year you’re currently filing, and where you should go in the future. While many people view tax planning as a one-time chore each year, a good tax planner can help you see how managing your taxes well is an ongoing project that can yield significant benefits.

Prepare for Applicable Deductions

Your tax deductions lower the amount of income that you must pay taxes on. However, you’ll need to decide whether you want to itemize your deductions or simply take the standard deduction. The standard deduction is a fixed amount that makes it quicker and easier to file your taxes and write off a decent sum of money. For many people, the standard deduction is more than their itemized deductions would amount to, which makes this an obvious choice.

For 2023, the standard deduction is:

  • $13,850 for single or married filing separately.
  • $14,700 for a single individual who is blind or 65 or older.
  • $20,800 for head of household.
  • $21,150 for head of household if blind or 65 or older.
  • $27,700 for married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er).
  • $29,200 for married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er)s if blind or 65 or older.

Most of the deductions that you could take on your income are covered in the paperwork listed above. However, you can also deduct losses from a federally declared disaster. If you suffered casualties or theft from this type of incident, you will most likely want to itemize your deduction, and you should bring all applicable documentation regarding your loss.

Review Common Tax Credits and Deductions

There are several credits and deductions that you can add to your taxes in applicable situations. If you qualify for any of these, you will need to bring appropriate documentation. You can claim a credit or deduction for things such as:

  • Adopting a child.
  • Suffering losses on a stock sale.
  • Caring for a dependent.
  • Maintaining a home office.
  • Purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle.
  • Making energy-efficient upgrades to your home.
  • Contributing to your IRA.

Prepare Your Questions

What questions would you like to ask about your current, past, or future tax situation? Perhaps you’re planning to remodel your home and want to know how you can take the maximum number of credits on these upgrades. Maybe you’re planning to expand your family and need to understand the tax implications and how they can offset some of the associated expenses. Think through your financial situation, and come with your questions in hand so your tax planner can best assist you.

Schedule Your Appointment

If you don’t have a tax planning appointment yet, now is the time to get it on the calendar. Our team at Pasquesi Sheppard in Lake Forest can help you organize your finances, optimize your tax filing, and simplify this potentially confusing process. We’ll help you evaluate your past taxes, get the maximum refund on your current filing, and prepare for the future. Contact us now.

white printed paper by Kelly Sikkema is licensed with Unsplash License