Tax Returns: Do Them Yourself or Hire Help?

Money Girl has some tips for getting the most from your taxes

Elizabeth Carlassare
4-minute read
Episode #11

Get Organized for Tax Time

Whether you do your own taxes or use a pro, getting organized up front will save you time and hassles. If you haven’t already gathered together the documents you’ll need for your 2006 tax returns, now is definitely the time to do it.

To get organized, you’ll want to create a file and put the documents you’ll need in it. Here's a list of the main documents you’ll want to gather up to get organized for tax time. This list applies to U.S. tax returns and, while it isn’t comprehensive, it will get you well on your way to having what you need at your fingertips. [[AdMiddle]

After you’ve finished gathering up the documents you need for your 2006 returns, create a new folder for the information you’ll want to collect for 2007. Making a habit of putting tax-related receipts and paperwork in this file throughout the year will make it much easier when you’re getting organized for tax time next year.

I’ve posted a poll at quickanddirtytips.com, asking whether you plan to use a tax preparer or prepare your tax returns yourself. To take the poll, visit the Money Girl section of quickanddirtytips.com. While you’re there, also take the audience survey.


Today, I’m giving away another book. If you’ve sent me an email or posted to the blog, you’re automatically entered in the give-away. This week, the winner is Dean H. in New York City. Congratulations, Dean! You’ve won a copy of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties by Beth Kobliner. Please check your email for instructions. This book has a lot of helpful information for younger people who want to take control of their finances. It covers personal finance basics, such as managing debt, investing in mutual funds and stocks, and buying your first condo or house.

Thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to post a review at iTunes. If you haven’t posted a review, please take a moment to write one. I’d really appreciate it!

Cha-ching! That's all for now, courtesy of Money Girl, your guide to a richer life.

If you have a question or comment, email it to money@quickanddirtytips.com. Also, check out the newest Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts: Legal Lad and The Mighty Mommy. Thanks for listening!

Get Organized! Documents You’ll Need for Tax Time

The list applies to U.S. tax returns. The list isn’t comprehensive, but will get you well on your way to having what you will need at your fingertips.

  • Your 2005 tax return.
  • Documents showing the income you earned for the year, including income earned as an employee, as an independent contractor, or from dividends and interest. These forms include:
    • W-2s
    • 1099 forms (for miscellaneous, interest, and dividend income, for example)
  • If you’re a homeowner, any 1098 forms you received (these forms show the mortgage interest you paid for the year) and your 2006 property tax statement.
  • Schedule K-1s (income/loss from partnerships, S corporations, etc.).
  • Brokerage statements showing sales of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.
  • Closing statements for any real estate transactions.
  • A copy of fees you paid for automobile registration.
  • Records of charitable contributions.
  • Records of contributions you made to an IRA or self-employed retirement plan.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Student loan interest.
  • Moving expenses for a job-related move.
  • Records of educational expenses.
  • Job-related expenses.
  • Record of what you paid for tax preparation in 2006, including the cost of tax software, tax books, and electronic filing fees.

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