Reghan Winkler: Checklist will help you prepare to file your tax return

By Reghan Winkler - Better Business Bureau

This coming January 24 is the first day of the 2022 tax filing season, when the IRS will start accepting federal income tax returns for 2021. The date marks the beginning of the third tax filing season to be affected by complexities associated with the COVID pandemic.

For most taxpayers, Monday, April 18 is the filing deadline, not the traditional April 15 date. That’s Emancipation Day in Washington D.C. and, by law, impacts the tax deadline the same way federal holidays do.

Whether you are one of the 80 million taxpayers who pay professionals to complete and submit their returns or you prepare tax returns yourself, you will need to assemble the documents and information necessary to accurately file your return. Go through the following checklist to make sure you have what you need at hand. Since not every item will apply to you, simply pick those that do.

Personal information:

• Social Security numbers, full names, and dates of birth for you, your spouse, and dependents.

• Information and documents regarding your stimulus payment (Economic Impact Payment or EIP) - IRS Notice 1444 showing your EIP amount, and IRS Letter 6475 (used to determine eligibility to claim Recovery Rebate Credit).

• Child Tax Credit Letter 6419.

• Identity Protection PIN, if one has been issued to you, your spouse, or your dependent by the IRS.

• If you want to have your refund direct deposited you will need routing and account numbers for your bank account.

Information about your income, expenses, and deductions:

• W-2 forms from jobs for you and your spouse.

• 1099 forms from various other sources of income i.e., IRA’s/pensions, investments, contracted work, etc.

• Social Security benefits - SSA1099.

• Income from state and local tax refunds or unemployment - form 1099G.

• Rental property income/expenses - profit/loss statement.

• Profit/loss statements from business or farming.

• If you use your home for business - home size, office size, home expenses, office expenses.

• Taxable alimony received.

• Adjustments to your income such as home mortgage interest (form 1098), childcare costs, charitable donations, energy credits and education costs (form 1098T).

• Document taxes you’ve already paid such as state and local income taxes, real estate taxes and private property taxes.

Tax scammers are quick to jump into this filing frenzy as well.

In one scam, someone uses your name and Social Security number to file a bogus return in your name and collect the refund.

Another takes the form of a phone call or email from someone claiming to be an IRS agent saying you owe back taxes and pressures you into paying by prepaid debit card or a wire transfer. You are threatened with arrest and fines if you fail to comply.

Here are some tips to avoid tax scams:

• According to the IRS, the best way to avoid tax identity theft is to file your taxes as early as possible, before scammers have a chance to use your information to file a fake return.

• Remember, the IRS does not initiate contact by phone call, email, or text to request personal financial information including phone numbers, passwords, banking, or other financial account information.

• If you don’t have an Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) from the IRS, apply for one before you file your return. This six-digit number plus your Social Security number confirms your identity. The IRS will provide an IP PIN online, then send you a new IP PIN each December by postal mail.

I hope these tips help make tax season a little easier.

By Reghan Winkler

Better Business Bureau

Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

Reghan Winkler is executive director of the Better Business Bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

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