5 Things You Must Bring to Your Tax Preparer's Office



You should bring a photo ID to the tax preparer's office to prove that you are, in fact, the person whose name appears at the top of the 1040. A driver's license, passport or military ID should work just fine. But more importantly, don't forget to bring your Social Security card and the Social Security cards of your spouse and everyone you claim as a dependent. If you're married and filing jointly, make sure your spouse comes with you, because he or she will need to co-sign the tax return before mailing it off to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires a valid Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) for each tax return. If you were born in the United States or born abroad to American citizens, you can apply for a Social Security number. But even non-U.S. citizens are often required to file federal tax returns. If you were born in another country and live and work in the U.S. as a resident or non-resident alien, and don't qualify for a Social Security number, then you need to apply for an ITIN to file taxes [source: Internal Revenue Service]. Bring your certified proof of identity and foreign status documents to the tax preparer's office and they can help you apply for the ITIN and file your taxes at the same time [source: Internal Revenue Service].

To claim dependents on your tax return, you will need their Social Security numbers as well as their full names and dates of birth. Every year, the IRS sends back hundreds of thousands of tax returns because the names and Social Security numbers on the forms don't match [source: Internal Revenue Service]. So double-check those middle names and match them with the spelling on the Social Security cards.

Speaking of dependents, things can get tricky if you're divorced with children. In general, the custodial parent is the only one allowed to claim a child as a dependent. But the custodial parent can waive that right by signing a release form (IRS form 8332) allowing the former spouse to claim the child as a dependent and collect a Child Tax Credit, too [source: Internal Revenue Service]. Your tax preparer will want to see form 8332 if that's the case.

The next thing you need to bring to the tax preparer's office is proof of every dime you earned in the tax year.