Preparing to File Your Federal Tax Return

The deadline to file your federal tax return is fast approaching. Do you have in hand all the personal records and documents from employers, banks, and others that you’ll need in order to prepare your return for filing?

This tax preparation checklist can help you prepare to file your taxes.

Personal Records for Your Federal Tax Return

Make sure you have last year’s federal tax return for reference, but your primary responsibility should be to gather personal records and receipts for any tax deductions.

Those may include records and receipts related to:

  • Contributions to a retirement plan
  • Charitable contributions
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Child care costs
  • Losses from casualty, disaster, or theft
  • Education expenses including tuition and other fees
  • Business expenses (e.g., business use of home and/or car, travel, entertainment, employee, etc.)
  • Non-reimbursed moving costs for a job relocation
  • Deductible taxes
  • Home mortgage points
  • Interest expenses

Documents for Your Federal Tax Return

By early February, your employer(s), most financial institutions, and any other issuers must send documents with tax information about your income or expenses. If a document you’re owed doesn’t arrive by then, contact the responsible entity.

You may receive:

  • Form W-2: Your employer is required to issue a W-2 to you, which states your wages and other compensation from the year and taxes withheld from your paycheck. Your employer must also file this form with the IRS.
  • Form 1099-INT: This reports payments of interest income, usually paid by a bank or other financial institution.
  • Form 1099-R: This details distributions from sources including but not limited to pensions, IRAs, or annuities, and will probably come from a broker, pension plan manager, or mutual fund company.
  • Form SSA-1099: Any Social Security benefits received will be recorded in this form from the Social Security Administration.
  • Form 1098: If you paid $600 or more in mortgage interest in 2016 to a lender, the lender must file a 1098 and send a statement to you that indicates the amount of interest paid.
  • Form 1098-T: You may receive this Tuition Statement from an educational institution or insurer if you have engaged in qualified transactions with a school and/or have received reimbursements or refunds for certain tuition and related expenses from an insurer.
  • Form 1098-E: You may receive this Student Loan Interest Statement if you paid $600 or more in 2016 to a lender.
  • Form W-2G: This form must be filed by certain entities engaging in gaming activities. It reports qualified gambling winnings and any federal income tax withheld on those winnings. If an entity must file this form for winnings and withholdings related to gaming activities in which you were the winner, it must also provide a statement to you for tax purposes.
  • Form 1099-MISC: You might receive this form for miscellaneous income received during the year, including self-employment income.

These are not all-encompassing lists, so visit — or work with a qualified tax advisor — to determine what records and forms you’ll need when preparing to file your taxes. You can also visit the Regions Tax Center for more information.

Tax time can go smoothly, as long as you prepare yourself with the right tools and information.


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This information is general in nature and is not intended to be legal, tax, or financial advice. Although Regions believes this information to be accurate, it cannot ensure that it will remain up to date. Statements or opinions of individuals referenced herein are their own—not Regions'. Consult an appropriate professional concerning your specific situation and for current tax rules. Regions, the Regions logo, and the LifeGreen bike are registered trademarks of Regions Bank. The LifeGreen color is a trademark of Regions Bank.