Pre-filing checklist: preparing to file

A quick checklist to make sure you have everything you need to prepare to file a tax return with april.

Updated over a week ago

This article was updated for Tax Year 2023, last edited on March 19, 2024.

It’s that time of year: tax season! Here is a handy checklist of some of the information and forms you may need when you file with april this year. Not everything may apply to you, so refer to the areas that do when you start gathering all your documents.

For coverage details and other important legal information about Filer, you can read more here. If filing through april Assist, you may be requested to provide additional documentation.

Personal Information

  • Last year's tax information. A copy of your federal and state returns (IRS and state Form 1040), if applicable.

    • If you don't have a copy of your return or a transcript, here's how to get it.

  • Driver’s License

  • Social Security Numbers (SSNs), legal full names, and dates of birth for you, your spouse, and dependents.


Salaried or hourly employee

  • IRS Form W-2. Employers must send out your W-2 (for salaried or hourly employees) by January 31 for the coming tax season.

Business Income

  • Forms 1099. You are likely to receive a 1099-NEC for contract work and/or 1099-K for payments via third party apps if you are an independent contractor, self-employed, or a freelancer.

  • It will also be helpful to have any documentation you used to run your business including, but not limited to, receipts, a summary of income, records for expenses, bank statements, records of sales, and/or a profit and loss statement, if you have one.

Investment Income

  • Forms 1099. You will receive a 1099-INT for interest earnings, 1099-DIV for dividend earnings, 1099-B for broker and barter exchange transactions, and/or 1099-OID for bonds. If the issuer is putting together a consolidated 1099 statement on your behalf, they have until February 14th to mail out this form, so you may get it a little later than your other forms.

Retirement Income

  • Form 1099-R. You will receive this form if you have distributions from a retirement plan of $10 or more. Retirement plan issuers have until January 31st to mail out your 1099-R.

  • Form SSA-1099. You will receive this form if you received Social Security benefits. SSA-1099 income may or may not be taxable depending on your situation. The U.S. Social Security Administration has until January 31st to send out your SSA-1099.

Other Sources Of Income

  • Income from the government. You’ll receive a Form 1099-G for any unemployment you’ve received.

  • HSA Distributions on Form 1099-SA.

  • Other miscellaneous income. Gambling winnings (sometimes on a W-2G), jury duty pay, prizes and awards, hobby income, and canceled debt (1099-C). Some of this income may be reported on a 1099-MISC and are reported on the Schedule 1.


If you are going to claim any deductions, you’ll need to have supporting documentation. Please keep in mind this checklist addresses the most common deductions but does not include all.


Please keep in mind this list addresses the most common credits but does not include all.

  • Education Credits. You may be eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), which allows eligible students to claim a credit for qualifying educational expenses during their first four years of higher education, or the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC), which is a credit that can be used for qualified tuition and associated costs for eligible students enrolled in an eligible educational institution.

    • Make sure to have your Form 1098-T and qualified tuition and related expense amounts.

  • Childcare costs. You may be eligible for the child and dependent care credit if you paid expenses for the care of a qualifying dependent to enable you (and your spouse, if filing a joint return) to work or actively look for work.

  • Child Tax Credit/Credit for Other Dependents. If you have dependents, you may be eligible for the Child Tax Credit which is a tax break for families with qualifying children. If not eligible for the Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for the Credit for Other Dependents.

  • Earned Income Credit. You may be eligible for the Earned Income Credit based on your adjusted gross income and number of qualifying dependents you have on your return.


This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax, legal, financial, accounting, or other advice. Rules and regulations vary by location and are subject to change, so please consult with an expert if you need advice specific to you.

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