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Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to file my income tax return? *some items might only apply if you itemize

  • all forms that say W-2, 1099, 1098, 1095, Schedule K-1, etc. (interest payments, unemployment, 401k, etc.)
  • records of other income such as rental property, alimony (paid/received), etc.
  • information on any stocks or other property/investments you sold or bought
  • for the self-employed, need income and expenses - anything related to running the business (gig)
  • records of any contributions you made to IRAs or other retirement plans
  • records for mortgage interest, real estate and personal property tax, auto registration fees (VLF fee)
  • donations made to church, schools, and other organizations
  • medical expenses (doctors, dentists, hospitals, etc.)
  • childcare and higher education costs
  • employment-related expenses (dues, travel, uniform cost and cleaning, etc.)
  • job search expenses
  • classroom expenses for educators (teachers, counselors, principals)

Should I file using the standard deduction "short form", or itemized deductions "long form"?

  • Deductions are expenses the IRS allows you to subtract from your total taxable income.

  • The standard deduction assumes you have an “average” amount of tax-deductible expenses, and lumps them into one easy total based on your circumstances. With recent tax law changes, most people use the standard deduction now. However, there are those that still benefit from itemizing - especially for the State return.

  • Itemized deductions is for taxpayers who had more tax-deductible expenses, greater than the standard deduction. Individuals who spend a lot on medical care, mortgage interest, state and local taxes, charitable contributions or a variety of miscellaneous items generally are better off itemizing. In CA especially, while you may not benefit by itemizing on the Federal return, you just may benefit on the CA return.

  • So... if you can "beat" your standard deduction by itemizing all (tax-deductible) expenses - itemize!

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