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Heres what you need for your 2017 tax return

The tax-filing season is here. Even if you plan on leaving the hard work to your professional tax preparer, you can make the process go more smoothly by organizing all the necessary information and documentation.

What records are required for 2017 returns?

For starters, your preparer will need Social Security numbers for you, your spouse and any dependents, plus last year's return. Although every situation is different, here's a checklist of some common income items to gather:

  • W-2 forms showing wages
  • 1099 forms for investments, bank accounts and side jobs
  • Business income of pass-through entities (e.g., K-1 forms) and sole proprietors
  • Other investment income information (e.g., carryover capital losses)
  • Other business income information (e.g., QuickBooks entries)
  • Statements of state and local tax refunds
  • Rental property income
  • Social Security benefits received
  • Other miscellaneous income items, including unemployment compensation, jury duty pay, prizes and awards and gambling income

Take a look at the list below. Records are usually required to claim deductions and credits for the following:

  • Charitable contributions
  • Mortgage interest
  • State and local taxes
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Miscellaneous expenses (e.g., unreimbursed employee business expenses)
  • Casualties and theft losses
  • Self-employed health insurance
  • Self-employed business expenses (e.g., home office expenses)
  • IRA contributions
  • Job-related moving expenses
  • Childcare costs
  • Adoption costs
  • Higher education costs
  • Student loan interest

Before you hand over documents to your tax preparer, verify their accuracy. For instance, make sure that contributions to IRAs and qualified retirement plans (like a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) for a self-employed taxpayer) reflect the appropriate tax year. Double-check Social Security numbers — it's easy to make a mistake.

Finally, if you're requesting direct deposit of a refund, there are two more numbers you must provide: Your bank account number and the bank's routing number. That is the fastest way to get a refund for your 2017 taxes.

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