What Documents Do I Need to Bring to My Accountant?

Get your paperwork together before tax time

an accountant talks to a couple about a financial plan as she shows them a brochure of information

Jose Luis Pelaez / Iconica / Getty Images

If you're like many people, the thought of doing your taxes—or even just getting everything ready so someone else can do them for you—stresses you out. Hiring an accountant to prepare your tax return is always the easiest route, but you know that they're inevitably going to ask you for some document that you didn't think to securely send or include in that paperwork you took to their office.

Take the stress out of this tax season by consulting our checklist before you leave home. Not all these documents will apply to you. You can simply cross off those that have no place in your personal financial picture.

Your Social Security Card

This is unnecessary if you've used the same accountant in previous years, but they'll otherwise want to verify the spelling of your name if you're seeing someone new. They can do this at a glance if you bring your Social Security card with you.

Be sure to bring cards for your spouse and dependents as well.

It might be worth a visit to your local Social Security Administration office to get a replacement card ​If you absolutely can't lay your hands on your card, but you can take a copy of a previous year's tax return with you instead if it bears your current name and address as well as your Social Security number.

Income-Related Documents

​Begin collecting all the documents that show your income for the year. Put them all together in one safe place as they begin landing in your mailbox in January and February.

Again, not all of these will apply to you, this this list includes what you should look for:

  • Form W-2 (wage and salary income)
  • Form W-2G (gambling winnings)
  • Form 1099-A (foreclosure of a home)
  • Form 1099-B (sales of stock, bonds, or other investments)
  • Form 1099-C (canceled debts)
  • Form 1099-DIV (dividends)
  • Form 1099-G (state tax refunds and unemployment compensation)
  • Form 1099-INT (interest income)
  • Form 1099-K (business or rental income processed by third-party networks)
  • Form 1099-LTC (benefits received from a long-term care policy)
  • Form 1099-MISC (Other miscellaneous types of income)
  • Form 1099-NEC (income from non-employee compensation if you're an independent contractor/self-employed)
  • Form 1099-OID (original issue discount on bonds)
  • Form 1099-PATR (patronage dividends)
  • Form 1099-Q (distributions from an education savings plan)
  • Form 1099-QA (distributions from an ABLE account)
  • Form 1099-R (distributions from individual retirement accounts, 401(k) plans, and other types of retirement savings plans)
  • Form 1099-S (proceeds from the sale of real estate)
  • Form 1099-SA (distributions from health savings accounts)
  • Form SSA-1099 (Social Security benefits)
  • Form RRB-1099 (Railroad retirement benefits)
  • Schedule K-1 (income from partnerships, S corporations, estates, or trusts)

Income That's Not Reported on Forms

It's possible that you might have received some income that's not reported on any of these forms. ​

For example, you might be a sole proprietor with your own business, and someone paid you $500 for work. This doesn't require that the company or individual submit a 1099-NEC form to you or to the IRS on your behalf because it falls below the $600 threshold requirement, but you'll still have to report and pay taxes on that income.

Make a note of all such payments or any others that didn't result in a specific income reporting document. Let your tax preparer know what the money was for and how much was received.

Other examples of income that might not be reported on one of these tax documents include investment income from foreign financial accounts and rental income.

Expense-Related Documents

You might also receive some tax documents that relate to money you spent that can affect your tax situation. You'll want to bring these with you as well or, if you didn't receive a document or form, make sure you have an accounting of the payments you made because they might well be tax deductible. Some common deductible expenses include:

  • Form 1097-BTC (bond tax credit)
  • Form 1098 (mortgage interest)
  • Form 1098-C (charitable contribution of vehicles)
  • Form 1098-E (student loan interest)
  • Form 1098-MA (homeowner mortgage payments)
  • Form 1098-T (tuition for higher education)
  • Business expenses (summarized by type and amount)
  • Child care expenses (summarized by provider and amount)
  • Gambling losses
  • Medical expenses
  • Moving expenses
  • Personal property tax, such as car registration paid
  • Real estate tax bills
  • Realized gain/loss report for any stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other capital investments sold during the year
  • Receipts or acknowledgment letters for gifts to charity
  • Rental expenses (summarized by property, type, and amount)

Many tax professionals will provide you with a printed organizer to help you collect all this data, so it will be at your fingertips when you're ready to file next year.

​If You're Missing Documents

You can get copies in several ways if you don’t have all your tax documents or think you're missing something, so don't panic.

W-2 Forms

Ask your employer to give you a new copy if you're missing a W-2 form. Employers are required by law to keep copies of W-2 forms and all other payroll information for at least four years. Some employers charge a nominal fee for a second form, however.

1099 Forms

Forms 1099 might come from several sources, and replacing one depends on the type of income it reports.

  • Banks often have tax documents available for download from their websites, or you can call their customer service numbers to get a new 1099-INT mailed to you.
  • Investment brokers should be able to mail you additional copies of Form 1099-B and 1099-DIV to report stock trading and dividend activity, or you might be able to download copies from the brokerage's website.
  • Contact your clients for missing 1099-NEC forms.

Be sure to download a copy of your year-end statement or a realized gain/loss report because information in those reports can supplement the information found on the Form 1099-B.

​You Can Get Copies From the IRS

The IRS receives copies of all your tax documents, so either you or your accountant can request copies from this source as well. You can do this in three ways:

  • Use the Get Transcript Online application on the IRS website. Ask for a copy of your "Wage and Income Transcript." Specify the year for which you're missing documents. You'll have to register with the website and take steps to confirm your identity. Keep in mind that IRS staff is as overworked as most other employees, particularly during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so you or your accountant might have to request an extension of time to file your return and pay your taxes after the April due date if you can't get what you need in time.
  • Mail or fax Form 4506-T to the IRS. This form is used to request transcripts of various tax documents. Check the box for line 8, "Form W-2, Form 1099 series, Form 1098 series, or Form 5498 series transcript." The IRS will mail out the transcript, usually in about 10 business days.
  • Visit a local IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. An IRS agent can print out your wage and income transcript for you, but some of these offices are temporarily closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The IRS will fax your Wage and Income Transcript directly to your tax preparer's office if you first authorize them to talk to the IRS on your behalf. Your tax preparer should have the necessary form for this.

The wage and income transcript is a computer printout of the information contained in your various tax documents. It won't look like photocopies of your W-2 and 1099 forms. Instead, it will literally be a transcript of the data contained in those forms.

The IRS only reports federal information on these forms. State and local tax withholdings won't show up, so you might want to contact any tax authorities that appear on the transcript to obtain a copy of those original documents.