It’s tax time, and with just under one month left until the tax filing deadline (April 15), there’s no time like the present to get going on preparing your 2012 federal and state income tax returns. First, a quick overview of what tax form you will need.

1040EZ – This is the simplest IRS form, and you can use it if you have no dependents, your taxable income is less than $100,000, and you’re not claiming any adjustments to income or credits.

1040A – You can use the 1040A if you received dependent care benefits but have taxable income of less than $100,000, do not itemize deductions, and are only claiming credits for child or dependent care expenses, earned income, elderly/disabled, education, child tax, and retirement savings contribution.

1040 – You must use the 1040 if your taxable income is more than $100,000, you have certain types of income other than wages, tips, salaries, dividends, etc., and you itemize deductions and claim certain tax credits or adjustments to income.

These are abbreviated descriptions of each form. You should review IRS Topic 352: Which Form – 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ? for a full description and checklist.

State form – Don’t forget—you’ll need to complete your individual state income tax form after your federal income tax return. Here in Colorado, that’s Form 104.

What do you need to get started? According to the folks at TurboTax, here are the things you’ll need before you dive into your income tax return (view their checklist here):

Personal Information

  • Social Security numbers and dates of birth for you, your spouse, your dependents
  • Copies of last year’s tax return for you and your spouse
  • Bank account number and routing number (if depositing your refund directly into your account)

Income Information

  • W-2 forms for you and your spouse
  • 1099-C forms for cancellation of debt
  • 1099-G forms for unemployment income, or state or local tax refunds
  • 1099-MISC forms for you and your spouse (for any independent contractor work)
  • 1099-R, Form 8606 for payments/distributions from IRAs or retirement plans
  • 1099-S forms for income from sale of a property
  • 1099-INT, -DIV, -B, or K-1s for investment or interest income
  • SSA-1099 for Social Security benefits received
  • Alimony received
  • Business or farming income – profit/loss statement, capital equipment information
  • Rental property income and expenses – profit/loss statement, suspended loss information
  • Prior year installment sale information – Forms 6252, principal and interest collected during the year, SSN and address for payer
  • Miscellaneous income: jury duty, gambling winnings, Medical Savings Account, scholarships, etc.

Adjustments to Your Income

This following items can help reduce the amount of your income that is taxed, which can increase your tax refund, or lower the amount you owe.

  • Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid (or loan statements for student loans)
  • Form 1098-T for tuition paid (or receipts/canceled checks for tuition paid for post-high school)
  • For teachers: Canceled checks or receipts for expenses paid for classroom supplies, etc.
  • Records of IRA contributions made during the year
  • Receipts for any qualifying energy-efficient home improvements (solar, windows, etc.)
  • Records of Medical Savings Account (MSA) contributions
  • Self-employed health insurance payment records
  • Records of moving expenses
  • Alimony paid
  • Keogh, SEP, SIMPLE, and other self-employed pension plans

Deductions and Credits

You’ll need the following documentation if you plan taking any deductions and credits:

  • Child care costs: provider’s name, address, tax ID, and amount paid
  • Education costs: Form 1098-T, education expenses
  • Adoption costs: SSN of child; records of legal, medical and transportation costs
  • Forms 1098: Mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and points you paid
  • Investment interest expenses
  • Charitable donations: cash amounts, official charity receipts, canceled checks; value of donated property; miles driven and out-of-pocket expenses
  • Medical and dental expense records
  • Casualty and theft losses: amount of damage, insurance reimbursements
  • Records/amounts of other miscellaneous tax deductions: union dues; unreimbursed employee expenses (uniforms, supplies, seminars, continuing education, publications, travel, etc.)
  • Records of home business expenses, home size/office size, home expenses
  • Rental property income/expenses: profit/loss statement, rental property suspended loss information

Taxes You’ve Paid

  • State and local income taxes paid
  • Real estate taxes paid
  • Personal property taxes
  • Vehicle license fees based on value of vehicle

Other Information

  • Estimated tax payments made during the year, if you’re self-employed
  • Prior-year refund applied to current year and/or any amount paid with an extension to file
  • Foreign bank account information: location, name of bank, account number, peak value of account during the year

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