By Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP®
Ah, tax season—not exactly the most wonderful time of the year, right? We get it. But like it or not, the time to file our taxes is upon us, and taking a proactive approach can help you overcome stress so you can focus time on what you do enjoy.
To help you gather the necessary information, here’s a roundup of the essential tax documents and details you need to grow your financial confidence and experience a smooth tax filing process.
Organize Your Personal & Income Information
You’ll start receiving various tax documents virtually or in the mail soon, so instead of letting them sit in a pile on your counter, create an organized system for the following.
- Form W-2: These are issued by employers and show your wages and tax withholdings. They are supposed to be mailed by January 31.
- Form 1099-MISC: These report income you have received as an independent contractor or freelancer. You should receive one from each person or company that pays you.
- Form 1099-INT: This form will show any interest you have earned.
- Form 1099-R: This form reports income received from annuities, IRAs, or pensions.
- Form 1099-DIV: Any dividend income you earn is reported on this form.
- Form 1099-B or 1099-S: You will receive these if you have any income from the sale of property or stock.
- Form 1098: You will get this from your mortgage company reporting the interest that you paid.
- Form 1098-T: This reports payments of qualified tuition and expenses.
- Form 1095-A or 1095-C: These forms report your healthcare coverage for the year and your premium tax credit, if applicable.
- Schedule K-1 (Form 1065, Form 1120S, or Form 1041): This reports income for a partner, a shareholder, or an income beneficiary of an estate or trust. The Schedule K-1 normal deadline can be as late as April 15th.
- Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid, or loan statements for student loans received
- Form 1098-T for tuition paid or receipts from the institution you or your dependents attend
- Receipts for any qualifying energy-efficient home improvements
- Records of IRA contributions made during the year
- SEP, SIMPLE, and other self-employed pension plan information
- Records of medical savings account (MSA) contributions
- Moving expense records
- Self-employed health insurance payment records
- Alimony you paid if your divorce was finalized before December 31, 2018
If you want your tax-filing experience to be painless, you’ll also want to make sure you have all of your and your dependents’ personal information available, such as:
- Social Security numbers and birth dates
- Copies of last year’s tax return (helpful, but not required)
- Bank account number and routing number, if you wish to have your refund deposited directly into your account
Gather Documents for Itemization
If you’re planning to itemize your deductions this year, you’ll need records to include your totals and provide proof.
Deductions and Credits
- Childcare costs: provider’s name, address, tax ID, and the amount paid
- Education costs: Form 1098-T, education expenses
- Adoption costs: SSN of the child; records of legal, medical, and transportation costs
- Form 1098: Mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and points you paid
- Investment interest expenses
- Charitable donations: cash amounts and official charity receipts
- Medical and dental expenses paid
- Casualty and theft losses: the amount of damage, insurance reimbursements
- Records/amounts of other miscellaneous tax deductions: union dues; unreimbursed employee expenses (uniforms, supplies, seminars, continuing education, publications, travel, etc.)
- Records of home business expenses
- State and local income tax
- Real estate tax
- Personal property tax
Updates for the 2023 Tax Year
There are some important changes to keep in mind when filing your 2023 tax return. Depending on your filing status, some taxpayers may receive significantly smaller refunds due to these changes.
- The Child Tax Credit will remain at $2,000 per dependent in 2023 and in 2024.
- The Earned Income Tax Credit moved up to $600 for eligible taxpayers with no children.
- The Child and Dependent Care Credit allows you to claim from 20% to 35% of your care expenses up to a maximum of $3,000 for one person, (1) or $6,000 for two or more people.
Stay on Top of Tax Changes
Those lists cover the details of what you’ll need in front of you to thoroughly fill out your tax return. But there are also a few things to think about that could impact how you file, such as any changes that have occurred this year. Did you add another child to your family? Did one of your children start college? Did you start taking withdrawals from a retirement account? All these changes need to be reflected on your tax return but won’t show up on prior returns.
Specifically, you should stay on top of annual changes to retirement plan contribution limits. For the 2024 tax year, you can put up to $7,000 in any type of IRA ($6,500 for the year 2023). If you are over age 50, that amount goes up by $1,000 with the catch-up contribution. 2024 annual contribution limits for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and most 457 plans are $23,000. If you are 50 or older, your yearly contribution limit goes up to $30,500. And if you are eligible to contribute to an HSA, you can save $4,150 if you have single medical coverage and $8,300 if you are covered under a qualifying family plan in the year 2024 (up from $3,850 and $7,750 for the 2023 tax year, respectively). If you are 55 or older, those limits go up another $1,000. Keep in mind that for IRAs and HSAs, you have until April 15th, 2024, to contribute for the 2023 tax year.
A knowledgeable financial professional can help you understand any tax law changes and how they affect you.
Plan for Your Future
Even though taxes can feel like a chore, taking the time to proactively prepare can ultimately help you reduce your tax liability and increase your savings.
Of course, we understand that taxes can be complicated. That’s why seeking the advice from an experienced professional can help to make this process smooth and easy as they help you uncover potential opportunities you may not be aware of.
At Elevate Wealth Management, our dedicated team is ready to help with comprehensive tax planning that aligns with your overall financial goals. If you’re ready to get clear on your taxes, contact us for a consultation by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307.673.5675. We look forward to speaking with you!
Jim Shellenberger, CFA, CFP® is a financial advisor at Elevate Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only wealth management firm serving young professionals, pre-retirees, and retirees in Sheridan, Wyoming, and surrounding areas. With the mission of serving and educating, Jim is dedicated to providing comprehensive, top-notch services that not only help his clients reach their goals, but also empower them to make the best financial decisions for their lives and walk toward their future with confidence. Jim is known for going the extra mile, not only offering valuable knowledge in investment management as a former investment analyst, but building long-lasting relationships so he can give honest, customized advice and strategies that make an impact on their lives.
Jim has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a minor in finance from the University of Wyoming. He is proud to be a Wyoming native and loves exploring the outdoors with his family—hiking, fishing, hunting, and backpacking. Faith is an integral part of Jim’s life, and he always looks forward to attending church on Sundays, Bible study on Fridays, and being part of his church community. He’s also an avid sports fan! Fun fact: Jim owns shares in the Green Bay Packers. To learn more about Jim, connect with him on LinkedIn.
The views expressed represent the opinion of Frontier Asset Management. The views are subject to change and are not intended as a forecast or guarantee of future results. This material is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute investment advice and is not intended as an endorsement of any specific investment. Stated information is derived from proprietary and nonproprietary sources that have not been independently verified for accuracy or completeness. While Frontier Asset Management believes the information to be accurate and reliable, we do not claim or have responsibility for its completeness, accuracy, or reliability. The use of such sources does not constitute an endorsement. Frontier does not have an affiliation with any author, company or security noted within. Statements of future expectations, estimates, projections, and other forward-looking statements are based on available information and the Frontier Asset Management’s view as of the time of these statements. Accordingly, such statements are inherently speculative as they are based on assumptions that may involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results, performance or events may differ materially from those expressed or implied in such statements. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of principal. Past performance is not indicative of future results.
Frontier does not provide tax advice. Please consult with a CPA for recommendations pertaining to individual circumstances.
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