Smart Spending

February Checklist for your 2011 Taxes

Many taxpayers dread each year because they are never sure of what they will need in order to complete their returns.  While the exact forms that are needed will of course vary from one filer to another, there are several forms that the vast majority of filers will need to complete their returns.  Use this checklist to make sure that you have the necessary forms before sitting down to do your 2011 taxes.

  1. W-2 forms – this basic form is sent by all employers to their employees each year. This form breaks down the amount of compensation paid in cash to employees as well as retirement plan contributions and some types of benefits.
  2. Charitable giving statements – those who make qualified charitable gifts may get an itemized list of their deductible gifts from some or all of the charities to which they made contributions during the year. Charities that don’t send this type of statement will typically furnish a receipt for each donation at the time it is made.
  3. 1099 forms – this form is sent to independent contractors and shows the types and amounts of self-employment income that are paid, such as royalty income.
  4. Investment statements – Investment companies such as banks, brokerage firms, investment advisers and trust companies as well as issuers of individual securities such as corporations, municipalities and the U.S. government will send investors forms that detail the amount of investment income that they earned during the year. Form 1099-INT breaks down the amount of taxable and tax-free interest that was paid. Form 1099-DIV outlines dividend income and shows which dividends may be eligible for capital gains treatment. Form 1099-B lists all aggregate capital gains and losses that taxpayers must declare on their tax returns.
  5. Retirement plan statements – IRA and retirement plan custodians as well as annuity carriers must send all of their account and contract holders a Form 1099-R each year that breaks down the amount of taxable and nontaxable distributions that are taken from qualified and nonqualified retirement plans and annuity contracts.
  6. Form 1098 – This form breaks down the amount of interest that was paid on a mortgage and often shows the amount of real estate tax that was paid as well.
  7. Form 1098-E – Shows the amount of student loan interest that was paid.

Most tax forms that report any form of income to the taxpayer (such as W-2s and 1099 forms) will also show any amount of federal, state and local income tax that has been withheld for the year.  For more information on which tax forms you may need to file your taxes this year, consult your tax or financial advisor.