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Taxes

Here are all of the documents you need to file your taxes

Make sure you gather all your important financial documents ahead of tax season.

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Whether you file your taxes yourself using online software or consult a professional, knowing what types of documents you'll need can help make the process less painful. Being better prepared can help prevent mistakes and speed up tax refunds.

CNBC Select compiled a list of some of the most important documents needed to file your taxes based on guidance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

What we'll cover

Using tax software

One way to help make your tax filing season go more smoothly is to use the right tax software. Some of CNBC Select's top picks include TurboTax and H&R Block.

TurboTax offers a variety of plans, including ones where you can get real-time help from tax experts or simply opt for a local tax expert to handle the entire process for you. It also backs its services with several guarantees.

TurboTax

On TurboTax's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    TurboTax Free Edition. ~37% of taxpayers qualify. Form 1040 + limited credits only.

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures. Terms apply.

H&R Block also offers an easy-to-use interface and various guarantees. For example, it promises 100% accuracy with your returns, otherwise, H&R Block will reimburse you for any penalties or interest up to $10,000. Customers can get live support online, over the phone or at over 11,000 tax offices nationwide, depending on your plan.

H&R Block

On H&R Block's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected (Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, or Self-Employed) - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    Yes (for simple returns only)

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Terms apply.

Personal information

The first step to filing your taxes is to provide personal information, including including the bank account where you want your tax refund to be deposited.

  • Your full name
  • Date of birth
  • Social security or tax ID number
  • Home address
  • Previous years' tax records
  • Bank account information for direct deposit refunds
  • Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) if applicable

If you're married and filing a joint return with your spouse, you'll need this information for them as well.

Dependent information

If applicable, you'll have to provide the information of any dependents, such as children or elderly parents that you might support.

  • Dependent's name, date of birth and social security or tax ID number
  • Any income information of a dependent or other adult in your home

Income information

You may need several different documents depending on your sources of income, but here are a few common ones:

  • W-2 information from your employer
  • 1099 forms such as 1099-G (unemployment), 1099-NEC (contract work) 1099-MISC (miscellaneous income), 1099-INT (interest income), 1099-DIV (investment dividends), 1099-B (income from stock sales), 1000-G (government payments) and others
  • W-2G forms for certain gambling activity
  • SSA-1099 form to report social security benefits
  • Rental income
  • Jury duty records

Most of these forms should have been mailed to you by the week of Jan. 31. If you're missing any forms, reach out to the business or government entity to get them before you start filing your tax return. The IRS may penalize you if you forget to include any of these forms.

Deduction information

There are many different types of deductions, and chances are that you won't qualify for all of them, but here are a few that people often qualify for:

  • 1098 form for mortgage payments
  • 1098-E form for student loan interest paid over $600
  • 1098-T form for tuition and education costs
  • Real estate taxes
  • Medical expenses
  • State and local taxes such as income tax and sales tax
  • Charitable donations
  • Casualty, disaster, and theft losses
  • Financial losses

Do I need to keep these documents for next year?

Keeping all of this information you just collected can help you for next year. While some of it will change, other less variable parts will still be useful next year. The IRS generally recommends keeping tax returns for three years. In addition, keeping supporting documentation on hand will be helpful just in case you get audited either this year or at any point in the future.

FAQs

In general, people will need a W-2 from their employer, the appropriate 1099 forms for income and any records for deductions they may be eligible for.

The IRS can ask for birth certificates. This is often more common in situations around how children are claimed during taxes.

The IRS has a list of credits and deductions available to individuals.

Bottom line

Many tax forms should be provided to you by a variety of organizations, but making sure you have them all collected and ready for tax season can make the filing process much smoother.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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