Tax Preparation Checklist for 2017 | Filing Your Taxes, Part 1

3/17/2017

The snow’s starting to melt and days are getting longer, which can only mean one thing – it’s tax season! The final cutoff is April 18, but it’s never too early to prepare for filing your taxes. There are a few essential documents needed when filing your taxes. PFCU has a host of resources for first-time filers, seasoned tax veterans, and everyone in between. Take a look at this tax preparation checklist for a breakdown of what’s needed before you can get started filing:

Tax Preparation Checklist for 2017

Personal Documents

Before you sit down to tackle your 2016 taxes, make sure you’ve located your Social Security number, and if applicable, the Social Security numbers of your spouse and dependents. The IRS tracks all tax forms with these numbers, so it’s crucial they’re included on each document. It’s also important to collect and organize all documentation for any credits or deductions. These could include education expenses, child care expenses, charitable contributions, or business expenses. Lastly, if you’re planning to have your tax return deposited directly into your PFCU account, you will need your routing and account numbers.

Tax Documents

There are a couple tax documents you should receive within the first quarter of each new year. The first is a W-2 – a summary from each employer detailing total income and taxes paid for the previous year. You may also need to file a 1099 form if you were a contract worker and earned more than $600 total from all business income in 2016.

Other documentation applicable for your 2017 tax filing could include:

  • Business income
  • Unemployment income
  • Rental property income
  • Social Security benefits.

To file your taxes, you’ll need to complete a 1040 form from the IRS. This is the standard tax form used to report all earnings, deductions, and credits from the previous year. Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you may be able to complete the 1040A, which is often referred to as the “short form.” The standard 1040 is known as the “long form” and leaves room for filers to claim expenses, credits, deductions, and adjust income. While the long form, unsurprisingly, takes longer to complete, it gives taxpayers an opportunity to lower the overall total of their payments.
In summary, there are three forms you’ll need:

  • W-2 - Employer details
  • 1040 - Earnings, deductions, and credits
  • 1099 – If you are a contract worker who earned more than $600

Tricks & Tools

If you made tax-deductible interest payments toward a home loan or home equity credit line in 2016, you may save money on your tax payments each year. Check out our Financial Calculators and tools for loan and credit line tax savings or a 1040 tax estimator. We also offer a Savings, Taxes & Inflation Calculator to determine how much your investments are truly worth after taxes are taken into account. Using this tool is an easy trick to help with your financial planning for the years ahead.

Additional Things to Know

If you moved to a new state, held multiple jobs, purchased your first home, or completed contract work, your tax return may be complicated. Whenever you are in doubt about your taxes, refer to the IRS website, it is a surprisingly easy and fool proof way to find answers to your tax questions.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of PFCU’s taxes series when we dive into whether it’s better to do it yourself or bring in a professional!

erin_elis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
eellis@pfcu.com