Locally based CPA firm since 1956

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people set goals, establish resolutions and are filled with optimism about ways they are going to improve themselves over the next 12 months. While the majority of these usually relate to fitness, finances, learning a new skill, or establishing a new habit, we’d challenge you to consider adding one more to your list.

Commit to be more organized when it comes to filing your tax return. Although getting your taxes organized might not sound like the most exciting thing in the word, following a few simple steps can save yourself a lot of time and stress as April 15th approaches.

We recommend waiting until you have the majority, if not all, of your documents before sending them off to your CPA. This will allow the professional to more efficiently prepare your return.

Another tip is not to spend time summarizing duplicate information when you receive a document from a third party. We encourage our clients to only focus on collecting the documents, and let your tax preparer do the organizing. That’s part of the value provided by the tax preparer, and gives you more time to spend with your family.

The first step to getting your taxes organized is to create a 2017 tax folder so that as you can consolidate all of the documents you receive in one place. This “folder” may be digital, physical, or a combination of both. Next, in lieu of using a formal tax organizer, if you can simply answer “yes” to any of these questions below you should expect to receive a tax document in the mail to include in your folder.

  • Did you collect salary? (Expect to receive your W2(s) the first week in February)
  • Did you perform contract work? (Expect to receive 1099-Misc in early February)
  • Do you have bank and/or brokerage accounts? (Expect 1099s)
    • Don’t expect these until mid-February, and don’t be surprised if you get a revised version in March.
  • Do you receive royalties? (Expect 1099s from payors)
  • Are you invested in any publicly traded or private partnerships (Expect K1s)
  • Did you take a distribution from a retirement plan? (Expect 1099-Rs from all custodians)
  • Did you collect Social Security income? (Expect a 1099-SSA)
  • Do you have a mortgage on your home? (Expect a form 1098 from your lender)
  • Did you pay interest on any education loans? (Expect a Form 1098-T)
  • Did you have health care coverage? (Expect a Form 1095)

Additionally, if you can answer “yes” to any of the questions below make sure to include this information in your folder to keep your taxes organized.

  • Are you self employed, do you own/operate a farm-ranch, or own rental property?
    • If so make sure you have record of all income and related expenses.
      • Remember to include business miles and if you’ve made any large purchases that will need to be depreciated.
  • Did you pay property taxes?
    • Don’t forget to include taxes paid on investment, mineral, or 2nd home type properties.
  • Did you make any large purchases that you paid sales tax on? (new car, etc..)
  • Did you donate to charity? (cash and non-cash (Goodwill))
  • Did you make estimated tax payments last year?
  • Did you pay any daycare expenses last year?
  • Did you buy or sell a home last year (Include closing statements on both the buy & sell)


If you’re unsure if you answered “yes” to any of the above last year we recommend that you call or email the individual who prepared your 2016 tax return; they should quickly be able to help customize your list of what to expect. (You can also get this information by looking at your prior year return, but we recognize tax forms can be confusing so a quick email may save you time).

As we move towards a more paperless/digital society many of the documents you receive will be electronic. In prior years emailing these documents has been the primary method of exchange; we do not encourage this practice. Instead include copies on a thumb drive, or upload through a secure online client portal (WCM and the majority of CPA firms have this available for client use).

If you’re a WCM client and have forgotten how to login to your client portal or need to establish one please let us know.