Prepare for your 2018 filing by getting organized with a checklist
Know your deadlines for filing and contributing to retirement accounts
Learn how key tax reform changes can affect your filing strategy
The start of the new year means that tax season has begun. So, now’s the time to gather and organize the information you’ll need to get started on your 2018 taxes.
Here are five things to know as you get a jump-start on this year’s tax season, as well as a checklist that can help you get organized and make filing an easier process.
A 2018 Tax Preparation To-Do List
Refer to this handy checklist to help you gather the information you need to prepare your 2018 income tax return.
Key Dates for 2019
There are two big days—the actual tax deadline and extension dates, said Danielle Erickson, Government Reporting Solutions Manager at TD Ameritrade. This year the tax filing deadline is on April 15, a Monday. If you request and receive an extension, your deadline will be October 15.
The last day to contribute to a tax-advantaged retirement account for 2018 contributions is April 15. The maximum contributions are $5,500 for those under 50 and $6,500 for those over 50. Contributions to a traditional IRA can be deducted against your 2018 taxes. Contributions to a Roth account are not deductible, but withdrawals, including any gains, will be tax-free.
Understand the Changes
A sweeping tax reform bill was signed into law in December 2017 that includes new tax brackets, an expanded child care tax credit, and a higher standard deduction of $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for those who are married and filing jointly.
The tax reform also comes with a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions (currently those deductions are unlimited), and a lower threshold for mortgage interest deductions. While the new rules didn’t affect your 2017 taxes, now’s the time to factor in these changes to your tax filing strategy for this year.
Forms Are Coming
Keep an eye on your mailbox and inbox. Soon your employer, investment provider(s), and the government will start sending tax forms detailing your activities for the year. For example, you may receive a W-2 form that reflects your wages for 2018 or 1099-DIV that shows your investment income. Use the checklist provided to help you track the forms you need to complete your return. If you’re a TD Ameritrade client, you can generally access the 1099 for your account online, giving you quick access to the information you need.
A Word on Corrections
You may receive a corrected 1099 form for a number of reasons. They include:
- Reallocation of income by the issuer (e.g., mutual fund company)A reporting errorReceipt of updated information
Corrected forms may be sent as soon as early February and typically continue through September. Investments that often see capital reallocated include mutual funds, regulated investment companies (RICs), and real estate investment trusts (REITs) because they have so many different investments. Simple equity or options investments, which typically don’t reallocate their income, don’t usually send out corrected forms.
So what happens if you receive a corrected form after you file? You may need to amend your tax return. To help reduce the chance of this occurring, consider waiting to file your taxes.
Your Investment Activities
If you sold any investments last year and have capital gains or losses to report, you’ll need to file a Schedule D. To complete this schedule, you’ll need to know:
- Your cost basis, which is generally the initial purchase price of the investment plus any adjustments necessary The buy and sell dates to determine if the gain/loss is long term or short term
If the transaction qualifies as a “wash sale”
You could keep track of all of this information yourself, but if you have a lot of different securities in your account, with a lot of buying and selling, deciphering cost basis can be tricky. TD Ameritrade clients have access to Gainskeeper®, a transaction monitoring and reporting service that will track it all for you.
The Bottom Line
It’s true that tax filing is never going to crack the top 10 list of “favorite things to do in the spring.” But if you take a methodical approach with a tax checklist, you may be able to whittle down the amount of time you spend completing and filing your return.
TD Ameritrade does not provide tax advice. Clients should consult with a tax advisor with regard to their specific tax circumstances.