What You’ll Need


In this lesson, you’ll learn what information you’ll need to correctly file a tax return. There will be a short quiz at the end of this lesson to make sure you understand the material before moving onto the next lesson.

To file a federal income tax return, you’ll need:

Information About Yourself

  • Your full name
  • Your Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your identity protection PIN if one has been issued to you by the IRS

Information About Your Spouse

  • Your spouse’s full name
  • Your spouse’s Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Your spouse’s date of birth
  • Your spouse’s identity protection PIN if one has been issued to them by the IRS

Information About Your Bank Account

The following information may be used to direct deposit your refund or pay any taxes you owe.

  • Bank routing number
  • Bank account number

Information About Your Children

If you have children, or other people you’ve claimed as dependents, you’ll need to provide the following information for each of them on your tax return. Providing this information as accurately as possible may reduce your taxable income or allow you to claim tax credits to help you afford to take care of your children.

  • Your child’s full name
  • Your child’s Social Security Number or Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Your child’s date of birth
  • Your child’s identity protection PIN if one has been issued to them by the IRS
  • Your childcare provider’s records including provider’s Taxpayer Identification Number
  • More if your child earns income or you’re divorced and don’t have custody of your child

Forms That Document Money You’ve Earned

When you earn money by working, or for many other reasons, you’ll receive tax forms from the companies that paid you. You must accurately report this information or you may end up paying a penalty on taxes you owed but didn’t pay on time.

  • Form W2s from any companies you worked for as an employee
  • Form 1099s for money you earned as a contractor or from unemployment insurance or investments

You may also need to report other money you’ve earned including:

  • Money you earn from rental properties
  • Money you earn because you’re retired such as Social Security benefits
  • Money you earn from alimony
  • Money you received from a state tax refund

Records For Money You Spent

If you spend a lot of money in qualifying categories, you may be able to reduce your taxable income by claiming one or more tax deductions. The following records can help you to accurately report all of your deductible expenses.

  • check registers
  • credit card statements
  • receipts
  • 1098 forms from your mortgage servicer and any other loan servicers
  • Asset information including value and date placed in service
  • Home office information
  • Records of estimated tax payments made
  • Receipts for energy-saving home improvements such as new appliances, insulation…etc.
  • Real estate and personal property tax records
  • Receipts for charitable donations including:
  • Cash amounts donated to churches, schools, or nonprofit organizations
  • Records of non-cash donations
  • Records of mileage you or your spouse drove for volunteering
  • Records of medical expenses including:
  • Mileage driven to medical appointments
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Out of pocket costs for doctors, dentists, or hospitals
  • Records of educational expenses
  • Records of classroom expenses if you’re a K-12 teacher
  • Records of retirement account contributions
  • Records of state and local taxes you’ve paid
  • Records of money you spent recovering from a federally-declared disaster