The Ultimate Tax Deduction Checklist

By: Alia Hoyt
W-2 form
Your W-2 form is probably the first document you need to get started on your taxes.

Way back before I hit "joint return" status, my taxes were sweet, simple and succinct. Much like early stage crow's feet and gray hair, my family's tax return is growing exponentially more complex with age, investments and dependents. Fortunately for those of you in the same proverbial boat, there are some easy steps to take to make sure you squeeze every last cent out of your yearly deduction potential.

If you're not sure where to start, refer to last year's return and make a list of the necessary documents and other information you needed last year and will likely need again to file the upcoming return and accurately claim your deductions. Although a lot of info will be available to you automatically, you may no longer receive the needed statements in the mail. In this Internet age, you may have to retrieve your bank statements and W-2s online yourself.


Whatever you do, don't jump the gun and file until 100 percent of your documentation is present and accounted for. If you get ahead of yourself, filing an amendment will be necessary and annoying. Also, remember to take inventory at the end of every year of the major and minor life occurrences that rocked your world, like marriage, divorce, parenthood, major medical issues, higher education expenses, moves and home ownership. Each of these things (and more!) can significantly impact the amount of deductions you claim, and therefore the moolah you enjoy come refund time.

Although some deductions are obvious, many others are often overlooked. Take a look at this handy checklist of documents you might need to gather as you prepare for tax time:


___ W-2s, 1099s, 1098s and other income statements

___ Savings and investment statements

___ Unemployment benefit statement

___ Alimony received

___ Rental property income

___ Social Security and/or pension payments

Real Estate

___ Mortgage interest statement

___ Second mortgage interest statement

___ Real estate taxes paid

Medical and Dental

___ Health insurance premiums

___ Documentation of out-of-pocket medical expenses (don't forget things like eyeglasses, braces, ankle braces)

___ Medical mileage (travel to and from the doctor or hospital)


___ Student loan interest paid

___ College tuition and fees paid

Work-related Expenses

___ Out-of-pocket expenses not reimbursed by your employer (mileage, cell service, equipment, union dues, job education, uniforms)

___ Home office expenses (mortgage, Internet, phone, equipment)

___ Job-hunting expenses

Charitable Contributions

___ Volunteer mileage

___ Charitable donations and other contributions (non-cashed charitable contributions are still deductible)

___ Other costs of volunteering far away (meals, housing, parking)

Other Expenses

___ State income tax paid (found on your W2)

___ Sales tax paid (for states that don't have a state income tax)

___ Portfolio management/investment services

___ Tax return preparation services

___ Casualty and theft losses

___ Energy-efficient home improvements

___ Job-related moving expenses

___ Alimony paid

___ Certain gambling losses

___ Child care expenses


Lots More Information

Author's Note: The Ultimate Tax Deduction Checklist

Deductions are probably easy-peasy for CPAs, but the rest of the general population often needs all the help we can get. Checklists make everything easier, right?

Related Articles

  • Hettick, Kathy EA. "2013 Year-End Tax Planning for Individuals." Hettick Accounting. 2013 (Nov. 20, 2014)
  • Hettick, Kathy EA. First Vice President, National Society of Accountants. Telephone interview Nov. 17, 2014.
  • IRS. "Publication 17 Tax Guide." 2013 (Nov. 20, 2014)
  • IRS. "Schedule A Form 1040." 2013 (Nov. 20, 2014)
  • IRS. "Tuition and Fees Deduction." 2014 (Nov. 20, 2014)
  • Myers, Randy. "Can I Deduct That? Your Tax Deduction Checklist." Entrepreneur. June 5, 2013 (Nov. 20, 2014)
  • Real Simple. "Commonly Overlooked Tax Deductions Checklist." 2014 (Nov. 20, 2014)