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Financial Advisors and Retirement Planners for Attorneys and Couples

Your 2021 Tax-Preparation Checklist

By Darren Wurz


Tax season is here. As much as you may be dreading another task on your already long to-do list, we’re here to help you tackle tax filing head-on so you can get back to doing what you love. To make it as smooth and simple as possible, organization is key! As your tax documents begin to arrive in your inbox and your mailbox, keep this comprehensive tax-preparation checklist on hand.


Gather Your Personal & Income Information

Here is a list of specific forms or documents that may apply to your situation. Make note of which ones you’ll need and keep them somewhere safe until you are ready to file. 

Income Information

  • Form W-2: These are issued by employers and show your wages and tax withholdings. They are supposed to be mailed by January 31.

  • Form 1099-MISC: These report income you have received as an independent contractor or freelancer. You should receive one from each person or company that pays you.

  • Form 1099-INT: This form will show any interest you have earned.

  • Form 1099-R: This form reports income received from annuities, IRAs, or pensions.

  • Form 1099-DIV: Any dividend income you earn is reported on this form.

  • Form 1099-B or 1099-S: You will receive these if you have any income from the sale of property or stock.

  • Form 1098: You will get this from your mortgage company reporting the interest that you paid.

  • Form 1098-T: This reports payments of qualified tuition and expenses.

  • Form 1095-A or 1095-C: These forms report your healthcare coverage for the year and your premium tax credit, if applicable.

  • Schedule K-1 (Form 1065, Form 1120S, or Form 1041): This reports income for a partner, a shareholder, or an income beneficiary of an estate or trust. The Schedule K-1 normal deadline can be as late as April 15th. 

Income-Reduction Documents

  • Form 1098-E for student loan interest paid, or loan statements for student loans received

  • Form 1098-T for tuition paid or receipts from the institution you or your dependents attend

  • Receipts for any qualifying energy-efficient home improvements

  • Records of IRA contributions made during the year

  • SEP, SIMPLE, and other self-employed pension plan information

  • Records of medical savings account (MSA) contributions

  • Moving expense records

  • Self-employed health insurance payment records

  • Alimony you paid

Personal Information

If you want your tax-filing experience to be painless, you’ll also want to make sure that you have all of your and your dependents’ personal information available, such as: 


  • Social Security numbers and birth dates

  • Copies of last year’s tax return (helpful, but not required)

  • Bank account number and routing number, if you wish to have your refund deposited directly into your account

Organize Your Documents For Itemization

Also, if you itemize your deductions, you’ll need records to include your totals and provide proof. 

Deductions And Credits

  • Childcare costs: provider’s name, address, tax ID, and the amount paid

  • Education costs: Form 1098-T, education expenses

  • Adoption costs: SSN of the child; records of legal, medical, and transportation costs

  • Form 1098: Mortgage interest, private mortgage insurance (PMI), and points you paid

  • Investment interest expenses

  • Charitable donations: cash amounts and official charity receipts

  • Medical and dental expenses paid

  • Casualty and theft losses: the 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

Taxes Paid

  • State and local income tax

  • Real estate tax

  • Personal property tax

Incorporate Changes

Okay, so that’s the nitty-gritty of what you’ll need in front of you to thoroughly fill out your tax return. But there are also a few things to think about that could impact how you file, such as any changes that have occurred this year. Did you add another child to your family? Did one of your children start college? Did you start taking withdrawals from a retirement account? All of these changes need to be reflected on your tax return but won’t show up on prior returns.


More than personal changes, there may be changes to federal or state tax law that you should be aware of. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform bill of 2017 is still being implemented, and the new SECURE Act could also affect your 2020 tax situation. 


Specifically, you should stay on top of annual changes to retirement plan contribution limits. For the 2020 tax year, you can put up to $6,000 in any type of IRA. If you are over age 50, that amount goes up to $7,000 thanks to the $1,000 catch-up contribution. Annual contribution limits for 401(k)s, 403(b)s, the federal Thrift Savings Plan, and most 457 plans also increased by $500 for 2020. The new annual limit on contributions is $19,500. If you are 50 or older, your yearly contribution limit goes up to $26,000. And if you are eligible to contribute to an HSA, you can save $3,550 if you have single medical coverage and $7,100 if you are covered under a qualifying family plan. If you are 55 or older, those limits go up another $1,000. Keep in mind that for IRAs and HSAs, you have until April 15th, 2021, to contribute for the 2020 tax year. 


A knowledgeable financial professional can help you understand any tax law changes and how they affect you.

Be Proactive

Taxes are complicated, so each little step to simplify the process will add up and save you time and money. Let’s take a step beyond this year’s taxes and look long term. Are you optimizing all of the tools available to you to minimize your taxes? Do you have a plan for your tax refund that will further your overall financial goals?


Working with an experienced tax professional who understands the unique challenges presented during tax season can help maximize your opportunities. Together, we can work toward your overall financial plan and optimize all of your available tools to limit your tax liability.


If you want to be proactive about tax planning and you don’t have a trusted advisor yet, we would love to help you experience confidence in every aspect of your financial plan. Schedule a no-obligation consultation, and together let’s find out if we’re the right people for you to depend upon during your journey to a comfortable retirement. Contact us at 859-291-9879 or today! 


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About Darren

Darren Wurz is a co-owner and financial planner at Wurz Financial Services, an independent, family-owned and operated financial services firm dedicated to helping its clients transition from their working life to a comfortable retirement with confidence. Darren received his Master of Science in financial planning from Golden Gate University and also holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation. He operates the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati office of Wurz Financial Services and is an active member of the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and the Covington Business Council. To learn more about Darren, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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