Checklist of Records to Gather Before You Do Your Taxes

Image of form 1040

Prior to preparing your next tax return on your own or with professional help, it is important you gather certain documents to facilitate the process. While some will arrive via mail, other records will need to be generated using data collected in the previous calendar year.

Printable Checklist

Use this printable checklist to guide you while gathering all the documents needed to prepare your tax return. The documents mentioned are separated by category, and you might organize the hard copies in the same manner so you can locate them promptly.

To retrieve a PDF version of the printable, click on the image. Should you encounter difficulties while attempting to download the printable, this guide will assist.

Printable checklist of tax records needed
Click here to download a printable tax record checklist.

Personal Information

In order for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to confirm your identity, it is necessary to provide the full name and date of birth for both you and your spouse (if filing jointly). You will also need to include Social Security numbers.

It is also ideal to have a copy of last year's return on hand so the preparer can become acclimated with your unique tax situation. Likewise, you may be asked to provide the prior year's Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) if you are preparing and submitting your return electronically using software.

Finally, the IRS needs your routing and checking account information to determine where your refund, if applicable, should be deposited.


Include the full name, date of birth, and Social Security numbers of dependents you plan to claim. Also, childcare records are required if you qualify and plan to take the accompanying tax credit, which will subsequently lower your tax liability or increase the refund amount.


You will need to gather any documentation that reflects income earned from your employer, typically displayed in Form W-2.

In addition, you'll need any Form 1099s income along with proceeds from alimony, jury duty, or any other miscellaneous income.

Retirement Income and Contributions

If you made contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), be sure to gather those records for your tax preparer. Also, you'll need to include any income reflected on Form 1099-R, RRB-1099, or any other document that confirms contributions.

Business Income and Expenses

Any records that document business-related income and expenses need to be on hand when it's time to file. Additionally, gather any records that reflect inventory, depreciable assets, rental property income and expenses, health-insurance premiums, and estimated tax payments. This documentation will enable the tax preparer to compute your company's taxable income accurately, along with the aggregate amount of expenses you can use to offset this figure.

Educational Expenses

Forms 1098-T and E include amounts paid for tuition that can reduce your taxable income and tax liability. You should also include receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses, along with scholarship and fellowship records.

Household Expenses

If you're a homeowner, be sure to gather records for any property taxes and qualified energy-efficient home improvement expenses. Doing so helps determine if it would be of greater benefit for you to itemize deductions.

Vehicle Expenses

Self-employed individuals can claim mileage instead of gasoline expenses to offset business income. You can also include commuting expenses, such as parking and tolls.

Other Deductions and Credits

There are a host of additional tax deductions and credits available to help reduce your taxable income and liability, which often results in a larger refund. As a result, you will need to provide documentation for any of the following expense types applicable to you:

  • Disaster-related expenses
  • Casualty and theft loss
  • Adoption expenses
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions
  • Charitable contributions
  • Investment interest expenses
  • Moving expenses

Using the Tax Record Checklist

By using the printable tax record checklist to gather important documentation, you will save time yourself a ton of time and frustration encountered when searching for missing forms needed to prepare your return.

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Checklist of Records to Gather Before You Do Your Taxes