Organizing your information:
I have a lot of detail information listed below regarding the documents and information you need to provide. For a downloadable list in .PDF format, click here.
There are many different ways you can organize your records for tax preparation. End of year tax documents such as W-2's, 1099's, 1098's, K-1's, etc can be sent as is, there is no reason to spend time writing that information down twice, and I need those documents for electronic filing purposes anyway.
Other information, such as stock sales, real estate purchases/sales, etc., usually have their own forms provided to you. In the case of stock sales, your brokerage firm should send you a year end packet with all the information contained within for tax preparation. If it is inherited stock, very old stock, or you have changed brokers along the way, you may have to research the purchase dates and cost of the stocks sold. Otherwise, most major brokerage firms provide all that information in their summary. Real estate purchases and sales, as you know, come with stacks of paperwork. The only thing I will need is the closing statement, also known as a settlement statement. This is a sheet, often legal length (14"), with columns of numbers and descriptions showing the price of the real estate, all closing costs and other items paid and credited at closing.
Itemized deductions often have their own forms. Mortgage companies provide a year-end form 1098 showing the mortgage interest, deductible mortgage insurance (if applicable), and real estate taxes paid on your behalf. If you pay your own real estate taxes (city, county, and school) you should have a receipt for those. Charitable organizations to which you made donations usually provide a receipt of some sort. You can choose to include those receipts or simply give me a list detailing the organization's name and the amount given. Just remember, you need to retain those receipts for future use in the unlikely event you are audited. If you have non-cash contributions (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.) be sure to list those as "non-cash" as that is listed separately. If you donate more than $500 worth of items, you will need an itemized list of what you gave and its value (example: clothing $150, furniture $400, electronics $125), as well as how you determined that value. You can go to the Salvation Army website for a donor guide. Be sure to include the charitable mileage you had, including the miles driven (round trip) to donate non-cash items.
Medical expenses do not have to be recapped by doctor or whatever. You can list different type items such as doctors, medical equipment, prescriptions, health insurance, etc., or you can simply state your medical expense as a whole amount (i.e. medical: $3527.15). Don't forget to include the total number of miles driven for medical purposes, as this is also deductible. An easy way to calculate your miles is to look over your medical bills (including prescriptions), determine the number of trips and multiply by the round trip mileage to that location (example: 5 trips to Dr. Smith, 10 miles round trip = 50 miles).
Sales taxes are deductible, and you certainly have the option to go through all your receipts and total all the actual sales tax you paid for the year. However, the IRS has a table I can use that calculates an amount based on family size and income which is much less work on your part. Be sure to list separately, however, any sales taxes you paid for large purchases such as automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, etc.
Finally, there are "miscellaneous" expenses that can be deductible, including investment expenses (such as IRA annual fees, safe deposit box, tax return preparation), and employee business expenses (such as miles driven for work - not to and from work - business publications, union dues, safety gear, work supplies, etc).
If you want some further guidance, take a look at the Client Organizer and see if that works for compiling your information:
You should write your information down in a Profit and Loss statement type format, i.e. a list of income by type and expenses by type. If you need an organizer for that please choose:
Business Deduction Checklist