There are steps people can take now to make sure their tax filing experience goes smoothly in 2021. First, they can visit the Get Ready page on IRS.gov. Other preparations include:
Check their withholding and make any adjustments soon
Since most taxpayers typically only have a few pay dates left this year, checking their withholding soon is especially important. It's even more important for those who:
• Received a smaller refund than expected after filing their 2019 taxes this year.
• Owed an unexpected tax bill last year.
• Experienced personal or financial changes that might change their tax liability.
Some people may owe an unexpected tax bill when they file their 2020 tax return next year, if they didn’t have enough withheld throughout the year. To avoid this kind of surprise, taxpayers should use the Tax Withholding Estimator to perform a quick paycheck or pension income checkup. Doing so helps them decide if they need to adjust their withholding or make estimated or additional tax payments now.
Gather tax documents and keep them for at least three years
Everyone should come up with a recordkeeping system. Whether it's electronic or paper, they should use a system to keep all important information in one place. Having all needed documents on hand before they prepare their return helps them file a complete and accurate tax return. This includes:
• Their 2019 tax return.
• Form W-2 from employers.
• Form 1099 from banks and other payers.
• Forms 1095-A from the marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.
• Form 1099-NEC, Nonemployee Compensation
• Notice 1444, Your Economic Impact Payment.
Most income is taxable, including unemployment compensation, refund interest and income from the gig economy and virtual currencies. Therefore, taxpayers should also gather any documents from these types of earnings. People should keep copies of tax returns and all supporting documents for at least three years.
Confirm mailing and email addresses
To make sure forms make it to the taxpayer on time, people should confirm now that each employer, bank and other payer has the taxpayer's current mailing address or email address. Typically, forms start arriving by mail or are available online in January.
Report any name or address change
Taxpayers who moved should notify the IRS of their new address. They should also notify the Social Security Administration of any name change.
Donate to charity
There is still time to make a 2020 donation. Taxpayers who don't itemize deductions may take a charitable deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made in 2020 to qualifying charities. Cash donations include those made by check, credit card or debit card. Before making a donation, people can check the Tax Exempt Organization Search tool on IRS.gov to make sure the organization is eligible for tax-deductible donations.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act changed this law. The CARES Act also temporarily suspends limits on charitable contributions and temporarily increases limits on contributions of food inventory.
Renew expiring ITINs
Certain Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers expire at the end of this year. Taxpayers can visit the ITIN page on IRS.gov for more information on which numbers need renewal.
Connect with the IRS
Taxpayers can use social media to get the latest tax and filing tips from the IRS. The IRS shares information on things like tax changes, scam alerts, initiatives, tax products and taxpayer services. These social media tools are available in different languages, including English, Spanish and American Sign Language.
Find information about retirement plans
IRS.gov has end-of-year find tax information about retirement plans. This includes resources for individuals about retirement planning, contributions and withdrawals. The CARES Act retirement plan relief waived required minimum distributions during 2020 for IRA or retirement plan accounts. Also, eligible individuals can take a coronavirus-related distribution of up to $100,000 by December 30, 2020 and repay it over three years or pay the tax due over three years.
Contribute salary deferral
Taxpayers can make a salary deferral to a retirement plan. This helps maximize the tax credit available for eligible contributions. Taxpayers should make sure their total salary deferral contributions do not exceed the $19,500 limit for 2020.
Think about tax refunds
Taxpayers should be careful not to expect getting a refund by a certain date. This is especially true for those who plan to use their refund to make major purchases or pay bills. Just as each tax return is unique to the individual, so is each taxpayer's refund. Taxpayers can take steps now to get ready to file their federal tax return in 2021.
About Schedule A, Form 1040, Itemized Deductions
Tax Topic No. 500, Itemized Deductions
Charitable Contribution Deductions
Interactive Tax Assistant
Share this tip on social media -- #IRSTaxTip: What to do before the tax year ends. https://go.usa.gov/x7Amc