Tax Preparation Checklist for 2020: What to Gather Before Filing in California

Tax Preparation Checklist for 2019

There are a lot of forms involved in filing taxes, so make sure you have everything you need before preparing your tax returns in California.

  • Bring any documents related to income earned throughout 2019.
  • Gather forms supporting available deductions or tax credits related to healthcare, childcare, education, and job expenses.

It is never too early to start thinking about tax season. Come January, employers and other agencies will begin sending out tax forms necessary for filing. Before you meet up with a tax preparer or start filling out your return online, it is important to make sure you have all of the forms you may need. These documents can be used for both your federal and California state return.

Personal Documents

  • Your social security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), as well as those of anyone you may be claiming on your tax return, including your spouse if you are filing jointly.
  • Photo identification.

Income Documents

  • W-2 forms from any employers you worked for in 2019.
  • 1099 forms for any contract work you completed if you earned more than $600 total.
  • Income from unemployment or social security benefits.
  • Income from the previous year’s state and local tax returns.
  • Income from any rental properties you may own.

Income Adjustment, Credit, and Deduction Documents

  • Contributions to a Medical Savings Account (MSA).
  • Contributions to an IRA.
  • Interest from investments, stocks, or other property.
  • Costs related to childcare (including the provider’s tax ID number) or adoption.
  • Costs related to education (1098-T and 1098-E).
  • Costs related to homeownership (1098s for mortgage interest, property tax, energy-saving improvements, or other expenses).
  • Costs related to medical care from doctors, hospitals, or other providers.
  • Form 1095-A for health insurance through the Marketplace Exchange, or 1095-B or -C for health insurance through another source.

Other Documents

  • Receipts from charitable donations.
  • Receipts from moving expenses for active military.
  • Receipts from job search expenses.
  • Records related to loss of property or insurance claims from a federally declared disaster.
  • Bank account and routing number if you want your refund direct deposited.

Having the right documents on hand can help the process run much more smoothly and ensure that you are getting the maximum refund and deductions or tax credits. If you are unsure whether you should bring specific documents or receipts, take them anyway. It is better to have too much information and not need it than to be missing important forms. Don’t forget – if you are filing jointly, both you and your spouse must be present to sign your return.

Getting Help Filing Your Return

If the thought of preparing and filing your taxes makes your head spin, have no fear – there is help available through OC FREE TAX PREP. Orange County United Way has joined forces with H&R Block, the IRS, and a coalition of local partners to support Orange County residents during tax season. Through you may be eligible to file your taxes online for free this year if you made under $60,000.  For in person help, the Volunteer Income Tax assistance Program (VITA), can help you file your taxes for free with a tax volunteer if you made under $60,000 in 2019.  In addition, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) was less than $56,000, you may qualify for cash back through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Visit to find out more about free tax prep options and if you qualify for cash back through tax credits.