Tax Preparation Checklist

Before we begin to prepare your income tax return, go through the following checklist. Highlight the areas that apply to you, and make sure you have that information available. Better yet, check items off as you receive them and include this checklist when you transmit your documents to us.


Most people will need:


Personal information

This information tells the IRS exactly who’s filing, who is covered in your tax return, and where to deposit your tax refund. If you used Merlin CPA for last year’s tax return, we will already have this information on file unless something has changed.

Social Security numbers and dates of birth for you, your spouse, your dependents

Copies of last year’s tax return for you and your spouse (helpful, but not required)

Bank account number and routing number, if depositing your refund directly into your account


Information about your income

W-2 forms for you and your spouse

1099-C forms for cancellation of debt

1099-G forms for unemployment income, or state or local tax refunds

1099-MISC forms for you and your spouse (for any independent contractor work)

1099-R, Form 8606 for payments/distributions from IRAs or retirement plans

1099-S forms for income from sale of a property

1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-B or K-1s for investment or interest income

SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received

Alimony received

Business or farming income (profit/loss statement, capital equipment information)

Rental property income and expenses (profit/loss statement, suspended loss information)

Prior year installment sale information (Form 6252)

Miscellaneous income (jury duty, gambling winnings, Medical Savings Account, scholarships, etc.)


Adjustments to your income

The following items can help reduce the amount of your income that is taxed, which can increase your tax refund, or lower the amount you owe.

Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid (or loan statements for student loans)

Form 1098-T for tuition paid (or receipts/canceled checks for tuition paid for post-high school)

For teachers (canceled checks or receipts for expenses paid for classroom supplies, etc.)

Records of IRA contributions made during the year

Receipts for any qualifying energy-efficient home improvements (solar, windows, etc.)

Records of Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions

Self-employed health insurance payment records

Records of moving expenses

Alimony paid

Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE, and other self-employed pension plans


If you itemize your deductions:


Deductions and credits

The government offers several deductions and credits to help lower the tax burden on individuals, which means more money in your pocket. You’ll need the following documentation to make sure you get all the deductions and credits you deserve:

Child care costs (provider’s name, address, tax ID, and amount paid)

Education costs (Form 1098-T, education expenses)

Adoption costs (SSN of child, records of legal, medical and transportation costs)

Forms 1098 (mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and points you paid)

Investment interest expenses

Charitable donations (cash amounts, official charity receipts, canceled checks, value of donated property, miles driven and out-of-pocket expenses)

Medical and dental expense records

Casualty and theft losses (amount of damage, insurance reimbursements)

Records of other miscellaneous tax deductions (union dues, unreimbursed employee expenses)

Records of home business expenses, home size/office size, home expenses

Rental property income/expenses (profit/loss statement, rental property suspended loss info)


Taxes you’ve paid

State and local income taxes paid

Real estate taxes paid

Personal property taxes

Vehicle license fees based on value of vehicle


Other information

Estimated tax payments made during the year (self-employed)

Prior-year refund applied to current year and/or any amount paid with an extension to file

Foreign bank account information (location, bank name, account number, peak value of account)