Jim's Tax Tips

Back to Basics: What You Need to File Taxes


Prep the proper paperwork. Gather up all your income statements from the previous year and find the right forms so you can report all income and claim every credit or deduction by taking advantage of every available deal.
My tips:

  • Do your own taxes. I've been doing my own taxes for 40+ years. By doing your own taxes, you will understand how the tax system works.
  • Use a tool like TurboTax (there are many other products but I've been using TurboTax almost exclusively for decades). The product that I prefer is the client version (versus the cloud or online version). We discovered that the cloud version doesn't handle Federal estimated taxes). Another advantage of the TurboTax client version is that you can go directly to the form(s) if needed
  • Download and be prepared to use the official IRS instructions for the current year. This year we used it for the issue of Foreign Dividends.
  • Have a filing system: Ours is a hanging folder for current taxes. After we file, we move the contents of this to a manila envelope, seal it and write on the outside "Taxes" + the year
  • I also have a folder system (Microsoft One-Drive)

  • This year we scanned every document to PDF and saved in the cloud
  • Have a checklist. Because we are retired, we are done with W-2's but we receive 1099-R's so for 2018, my document checklist looks as follows:

  • I key in the data from the documents as they arrive (the 1099-DIV from Wells Fargo is imported). We have a "two set of eyes" rule. We review (screen share) as the data is entered. Upon filing we review again (a double check)
  • Retain: receipts from HSA purchases (we have a separate file for this)
  • Retain: all receipts from charitable contributions 
  • Celebrate the privilege of paying taxes!

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