Ah, the 29th of February. An extra day to be productive. If you haven’t done your taxes yet, use a couple hours of your Leap Day bonus 24 to get organized, dig through those stacks of receipts and documents kicking around the house and get your ducks in a row.
If you need a refresher or are just getting started with your tax doc organization, here’s a quick & dirty overview of the documents you’ll need:
- Your Social Security Number and those of your spouse and dependents
- Your bank account and routing number
- A list of taxes you paid in 2011, including property taxes, state and local taxes and any estimated taxes payments you made
- Income tax forms such as W-2s; 1099s; Schedule K-1s; records showing alimony payments, business or farming income, rental property income, income from sales of property, etc.
- IRA contribution or distribution information
- Payments you made toward education, such as tuition or student loan interest paid
- Child care costs detailed in canceled checks or invoices, as well as the child care provider’s name, address and tax ID or Social Security Number
- Home mortgage interest paid
- Expenses related to a job search or to moving for a job relocation
- A list of charitable donations and supporting receipts and acknowledgements from the charity
- Amount paid for preparation of your taxes last year, as well as a copy of last year’s return
Don’t worry about receipts for personal items such as groceries or clothing after they appear on your bank or credit statement — in general, these items are not deductible (with few exceptions, like if the clothing you purchased was a uniform for volunteer work).
And if you happen to discover that you’ve thrown an important financial record away, don’t panic. You’ve got some time before the filing deadline (that’s why you’re squeezing this little organization-fest into February and not waiting until April). Most documents can be replaced – just contact the company who issued the document to you.
Subscribing to the ‘Ace Your Taxes’ bootcamp also gives you access to an ultra-helpful detailed printable checklist to help you ensure you’ve got everything covered before you sit down to file with a tax professional or with at-home tax software. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned filer, that checklist is a lifesaver – so be sure to scope it out. Plus, physically checking items off a list is a surefire way to make your Leap Day officially productive.
Do it. Organize. Pat yourself on the back. You did good, kid.