It’s December. Do You Know Where Your Tax Paperwork Is?


Photo: Ladyheart/morguefile
Photo: Ladyheart/morguefile

The tax year is winding down, and if you’re hoping to get a jump on the April 15th deadline by filing early, organization is key.

Now is a great time to gather all of your paperwork and organize it for easy reference on tax day. Getting organized ahead of time will save you time and energy when it comes time to file your taxes. Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll need:

If you work for an employer:

  • Paystubs and W2 forms. Employers have until January 31st to issue your W2. Once you receive it, compare the figures with the figures on your year-end pay stub. If there are any discrepancies, be sure to contact your employer’s payroll department or bookkeeper. You’ll want to clear up any issues long before your file your return.
  • Proof of 401k/IRA contributions. These figures will typically show on your paystub each pay period. If not, the plan administrator will typically issue a year-end statement as proof of contribution.
  • Your paystub will also show proof of contribution to any employer-sponsored HSA.

If you freelance or have side gigs in addition to W2 earnings:

  • Records of all tip income
  • Records of all your income and expenses for the year, along with receipts verifying those figures
  • If you earn more than $600.00 from any one client, they will issue a 1099-MISC by January 31. If you have not received your 1099-Misc by mid-January, follow up with the client. You will need the form in order to file your taxes.
  • You’ll need to report ALL income, regardless of how much you earn from a specific client.
  • Mileage records if you used your car in the course of conducting business, such as driving for Uber or driving to and from client meetings, medical appointments, and/or volunteer gigs.

If you’ll be itemizing your deductions:

  • For child/elder care: copies of all receipts and payments made to care providers.
  • If you hired a nanny or babysitter who earned more than $600.00, you’ll need to issue a 1099-Misc. form.
  • Charitable contributions: copies of all receipts. If you made donations to a qualified non-profit, they will typically issue a donor acknowledgement letter either at the time of donation or at the end of the year.
  • Copies of receipts for any goods donated. The charity will typically issue a receipt at the time of donation, and you’ll be responsible for declaring the Fair Market Value of the donated items.
  • For medical/dental: Copies of receipts verifying co-payments or other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Copies of mileage records to and from appointments
  • Copies of receipts for any medically-necessary mobility devices, home modifications, or vehicle modifications
  • For homeowners: Copies of the 1098 Mortgage Statement issued by the lender or servicer
  • Records for any repairs, rental expenses, insurance, or disaster-related repairs
  • Receipts for uniform expenses if a uniform is required for work, but not reimbursed by your employer

If this is the first year you’re either filing your own return or claiming itemized deductions, now is a good time to check in with a tax pro who can assess your unique tax scenario and advise you on exactly which documents you’ll need.

Getting ready for tax day is all about keeping organized records. If your paperwork is spread out among various shoeboxes, drawers, or some random spot you can’t remember, now is a good time to dig them out and organize them into one central file.

You’ll be glad you did come tax day.

Self-Employment Tax Forms For Home-Based Business Owners

Running a home-based business comes with its share of perks: no nasty daily slog back and forth to the office, more control over your time and resources, and the ability to create your own work schedule according to business needs without having to appeal to the office chain of command.

Owning your own business can be rewarding and enjoyable, but you do need to be aware of the different tax forms pertaining to self-employment so your transition from employee to business owner will be a smooth one. 

 Instead of just filing a 1040 EZ form every year and attaching your W2, you’ll need to attach additional forms to your tax return. Here is a breakdown of the three most common tax forms for home-based businesses:

Schedule C: Profit and Loss From Business

The Schedule C attachment is by far the most important tax form you’ll use. In it, you’ll state your business profit and loss figures. You’ll need to report your total revenue for the year, offset by your expenses. The business expenses section is categorized according to the type of business expense. Qualified expenses deductions include:

  • Marketing/advertising
  • Supplies
  • Office expenses
  • Inventory
  • Payroll

Schedule SE: Self-Employment Tax

The Schedule SE form is used to calculate the correct amount of self-employment tax that is due at the time you file your return. Since you don’t have an employer, you’re required to submit both portions of the Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA). Here’s how to calculate what you owe:

  • Multiply 92.35 percent of your net profit (after expenses and deductions) by 15.3 percent. This will be your Self-Employment Tax
  • You may deduct half of this amount as an adjustment to income on Form 1040

Form 8829: Business Use of Home

If you operate your business out of your home, you may qualify for the Business Use of Home tax deduction. You’ll need to attach Form 8829 to your return in order to claim this deduction.

  • Calculate the square footage of your office space
  • You can then claim a portion of your home expenses as a deduction based on the office area.

Eligible expenses include:

  • Utilities: water, gas, power
  • Telephone/internet charges
  • Repairs
  • A portion of your rent or mortgage

Here’s the catch: the office space must be used regularly and exclusively for business: your combination gaming area/home office/den won’t qualify.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of tax forms for entrepreneurs, these are the three most essential forms for you to use, especially if you run your business from your home.

Self-employment tax codes can be tricky, especially if this is your first year filing as a self-employed person. Checking in with a qualified tax pro will be to your benefit, as he or she can advise you on record-keeping, estimated quarterly taxes, and the precise calculations for home office use.

Running your own business can be satisfying in ways you won’t experience  with a conventional job. By staying on top of the change in your tax status and filing the correct forms, your transition from employee to business owner will be a smooth one.