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Tax Tip: Document Your Special Tax Situations

Editor's Note: This article is part of our 2012 Tax Tips series. Robert Flach is an expert with almost 40 years of experience as a tax professional and also blogs as The Wandering Tax Pro.

By Robert Flach

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- There's a lot more to tax filing than totaling your wages and taxes paid, so if any of the following situations apply, make sure you provide your tax preparer with the necessary documentation.

You sold shares of stock or a mutual fund. Make sure you know the original cost and date of purchase of the shares that you sold. The information may be on your year-end statement you get from your broker. If you bought shares via dividend reinvestment, you'll need to know the amount of dividends that were reinvested each year. If you originally inherited the shares that you sold last year, know the number of shares inherited and the date of death of the person from whom they were inherited.
Make sure you have all the required information for your deductible financial situations.

You sold real estate. Give your tax preparer the closing/settlement statements for the purchase and sale of the property, plus the cost of capital improvements you made over the years.

You bought real estate. Give your preparer the closing/settlement statement for the purchase of the property. For rental property, also provide the separate amounts of "assessed value" for land and improvements from the tax bill.

>>The Most Commonly Asked Tax Questions

You refinanced a mortgage. Again, make sure you provide the closing/settlement statement for the refinance and the term of the new loan.

You got IRA distributions. You will need the year-end statements for all IRA accounts, which will be provided by the financial institution that manages the accounts.

You have dependents in college. Provide all Form 1098-Ts you got to reflect your tuition payments, the "burser's reports" for the year (you may be able to print out a report from the college's Web site) and the amounts paid for books and supplies.

You paid for child care. Make sure you have the name, address, Social Security or Employer Identification number and the amount paid for all child care providers. Summer day camp costs qualify for the Child Care Credit.

You got a distribution from a pension plan. If you took any cash out of a retirement plan, whether or not you rolled over the distribution to an IRA, you will need documentation of the amounts and dates of the transaction.

You donated a car to charity. Give your tax preparer all the paperwork you got from the charity, especially the Form 1098-C, plus documentation of the original cost and date of purchase of the car.

You're paying alimony. Make sure you have the Social Security number of your ex-spouse, the amount of alimony paid in the year and any other required payments (i.e., health insurance premiums, real estate expenses) you made on behalf of your ex-spouse.

You bought a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle or boat. For any major vehicle purchase, provide documentation of the amount of sales tax you paid.

You bought an energy-efficient product for your home. Energy improvements are tax deductible, so make sure you have the receipt for the item bought and a Manufacturer's Certification Statement. If you do not have a Manufacturer's Certification Statement, go back to where you bought the item and ask for one. You also may be able to download one from the manufacturer's Web site.

If you're filing your taxes for the first time this year, make sure to check out our Taxes 101: A Beginner's Guide to Filing Your 1040!

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