Ready to start your 2020 tax preparation? Keep these five things in mind and refer to the checklist as you prepare.
Let’s face it: 2020 has been a strange year for most Americans. Many would call it a year to forget. But as we flip the calendar to 2021, one thing that we can’t forget about 2020 is that we still have to square up with Uncle Sam.
Yes, 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 2020 taxes. And remember: It was a strange year, which also means it has a few unique tax quirks.
Here are five things to know as you get a jump-start on this year’s tax season. And to help further de-stress tax season, consider using the checklist below to aid in the organization and filing process.
Refer to this handy checklist to help you gather the information you need to prepare your 2020 income tax return.
There are two big days—the actual tax deadline and extension dates. This year the tax filing deadline is on April 15, a Thursday. If you request and receive an extension, your deadline will be Friday, October 15.
The last day to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for 2020 is also April 15. The maximum contributions are $6,000 for those under 50 and $7,000 for those over 50. Contributions to a traditional IRA can be deducted against your 2020 taxes. Contributions to a Roth IRA aren’t deductible, but withdrawals, including any gains, will be tax-free.
If you’re trying to decide between a traditional and a Roth IRA, make sure you know the differences.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed into law in March 2020, contained a few provisions to help taxpayers this year. You’ll want to consult with your tax advisor for the details, but here’s the gist:
Keep an eye on your mailbox and inbox. Your employer, investment provider(s), and the government will soon start sending tax forms detailing your activities for the year. For example, you may receive a W-2 form that reflects your wages for 2020 or 1099-DIV that shows your investment income. Use the checklist provided above 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.
You may receive a corrected 1099 form for a number of reasons. They include:
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.
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:
You could keep track of all 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.
It’s true that tax filing is never going to crack the top 10 list of “favorite things to do in the new year.” 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.
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