Checklist [‘tʃeklist]: n. a list of items (names or tasks etc.) to be checked or consulted.

  • You do not need to answer questions that are not applicable to you.
  • You do not need to answer questions if already covered by tax documents.
  • Please highlight information you do not want me to miss.
  • Please do indicate your spreadsheet contains multiple tabs, example: check_list_info (multiple tabs).xls.
  • Please try to avoid but do indicate when a file contains multiple facts, example: all_1099_forms (multiple docs).pdf.
  • Please do not embed tax documents in the checklist info doc.
  • If you have a passworded doc, please either follow the instructions here to remove the password, or put the password in the filename. Google Drive already provides security.
  • Please do not use filenames starting with a dash (_) which is my indication that the file has been read and processed (LOL).

You can create a Google doc or Google sheets after you enter your link by clicking “+ New”, or create your own simple word or text document and upload it along with tax documents.

New in 2023.

  • VA residents only: 2023 tax rebate received ($200/$400)? Not sure, please lookup here.

Frequently Forgotten Items.

These items can help you if provided or hurt you if omitted. Highlights here, detailed in the text body below.

  • Mortgage principal paid for loans more than 750K.
  • Car tax (CA, MA, VA, WA).
  • Dependent care expenses (5 pieces of info).
  • E*Trade Stock plan supplemental info.
  • Form 3922 or purchase confirmation.
  • Form 3921 or release confirmation.
  • State 529 for your children (3 pieces of info).
  • “Backdoor” Roth IRA conversion (4 pieces of info).
  • Closing doc when you buy, sell, or refinance a home.
  • F-1/OPT student visa history.
  • Rent paid in the year (MA, NJ only).

Are You a US Citizen, Resident Alien, or Nonresident Alien?

  • Were you (or your spouse if married) a citizen, a permanent resident (green card holder), or a professional worker with an H-1B, L1 visa for the entire year of 2023?
  • If you have not been a resident for the current year and the prior year, please list your (and your spouse’s if married) complete visa (status) history in the format shown below:

    • 20XX F1
    • 20XX F1
    • 20XX-01-01 - 20XX-09-30 F1
    • 20XX-10-01 - 20XX-12-31 H1B

and be sure to provide information in the Nonresident section at the end of this checklist.

NB, Special benefit for married couples: if one spouse is a resident at the end of the year 2023, you and your nonresident spouse can elect to file jointly as residents.

What is Your Filing Status?

  • Single.
  • Married Filing jointly (MFJ).
  • Married filing separately (MFS).
  • Head of Household (HOH, single parent with dependent).
  • Qualifying surviving spouse (QSS), formerly known as Qualified Widow(er) (QW).
  • Not sure, please describe your situation.

Personal Information (New Client or Changed Info):

Please provide the following info for the taxpayer (and spouse if filing jointly):

  • First name.
  • Middle name.
  • Last name.
  • Pronouns (He/Him/His, She/Her/Hers, They/Them/Theirs).
  • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY).
  • Social Security Numbers or Individual Tax Identification Number, see ITIN in SPECIAL SITUATION section if you do not have either.
  • Email address.
  • Address.
  • Telephone number.
  • Occupation.
  • IP PIN (Identity Protection Personal Identification Number, you know if you have it).

and for EACH dependent (your spouse is not your dependent):

  • First name.
  • Middle name.
  • Last name.
  • Date of Birth (MM/DD/YYYY).
  • Social Security Numbers or Individual Tax Identification Number, see ITIN in SPECIAL SITUATION section if you do not have either.
  • Relationship (the dependent is your Son, Daughter, Dad, Mom, or …).

Bank Information for Tax Refund or Payment Only.

I do not use it for the filing fee or any other purposes, for new clients or returning clients with changed info.

  • Bank name.
  • Bank routing number (as appeared on your checkbook if you use a checking account, Paper & Electronic not Wires).
  • Your account number (as appeared on your checkbook if you use a checking account).
  • Your account type (Checking or Savings).
  • Account holder(s).

Virtual Currency Question.

At any time during 2023, did you: (a) receive (as a reward, award, or payment for property or services); or (b) sell, exchange, gift, or otherwise dispose of a digital asset (or a financial interest in a digital asset) (Yes/No)?

The following actions do not require a Yes answer:

  • Holding a digital asset in a wallet or account;
  • Transferring a digital asset from one wallet or account you own or control to another wallet or account that you own or control; or
  • Purchasing digital assets using U.S. or other real currency, including through the use of electronic platforms such as PayPal and Venmo.

Last Year’s Tax Returns (for New Client Only).

  • Please provide last year’s return (federal and state).

    OR both of the following:

  • Four transcripts (Return, Record, Account, Wage and Income) from your account at the IRS.


  • Taxes owed and paid to or refunds received from states, for example:

    • VA: owed and paid $500
    • DC: refund of $300

    The information is in your last year’s return, the 1099-G the state sent out, or your bank record.

Location Info.

Please provide a list of your locations throughout the year, formatted as shown below. Specify the state (anc city if there is a city tax involved) if you were in the United States or the country if you were abroad. You do not need to include vacations where you did not change your state residency. For travel history outside the United States, you can retrieve your records from the I94 Website.

  • 01/01/2023 - 05/15/2023 Maryland (MD)
  • 05/16/2023 - 08/15/2023 China
  • 08/16/2023 - 12/31/2023 Virginia (VA)

Income and Income Adjustment.

  • W-2 wage forms from ALL employers for the year.
  • Retirement distribution. When dealing with pensions, annuities, distributions from retirement plans, rollovers, and conversions (including “backdoor” Roth conversions), you’re essentially moving money between two accounts: the account the money is coming from (source) and the account the money is going to (target). I need the following 4 pieces of information. For each transaction, please organize the information into separate folders and include the following details:

    • Source of the Money: If possible, provide the information from Form 5498 for the source account, showing contributions. If you don’t have this form, note the date you made the contribution, how much you contributed, and the year it was for, based on your records.
    • Amount Withdrawn: Provide information on distributions made in 2023 from the source account, using Form 1099-R issued for the year.
    • Remaining Balance in the Source Account(s): Indicate the year-end balance in the source account(s), either from Form 5498 or your records. If you have multiple traditional or rollover IRA accounts, it is the COMBINED balance. For tax theory, see Backdoor Roth IRA.
    • Destination of the Money: If you have Form 5498 for the target account, include it to show rollovers or conversions. If not, specify the type of account the money was moved to (IRA, Roth IRA, 401K, Roth 401K, etc.), along with the amount received in 2023, based on your records.

    For example:

    • Contribution: I added $6,000 to a traditional IRA on April 1, 2024, for the 2023 tax year. I don’t have Form 5498 from the source.
    • Distribution: I moved $6,001.23 from the traditional IRA, as detailed on Form 1099-R.
    • Remaining Balance: As of December 31, 2023, the combined balance of all my traditional and rollover IRAs across all banks was $0, but I do not have Forms 5498 to show this.
    • Destination: The $6,001.23 was transferred to a Roth IRA in 2023, but I don’t have Form 5498 for the target account.
  • Traditional IRA contribution only. Please provide:
    • The date that you contributed or you will contribute (you have until the filing deadline to make contribution).
    • The amount of contribution.
    • The year allocated to.
  • Social Security benefits (SSA-1099).
  • Independent contractor and other miscellaneous income (1099-MISC).
  • Unemployment compensation (1099-G).
  • Schedule K-1 forms for Partnership, S Corporation, and trust income.
  • Alimony received.
  • Jury duty pay.
  • Gambling and lottery winnings.
  • Prizes and awards.
  • Scholarships and fellowships.
  • State and local income tax refunds (1099-G, if you did not file with me last year and you have not provided the last year’s returns and you have itemized last year).


If you have HSA (Health Savings Account), please provide:

  • Is it a “self-only” plan (insurance only covers yourself) or a family plan? i.e. does the insurance cover only yourself or a family member as well?
  • 1099-SA or the amount spent from HSA. Zero is also a meaningful number.
  • All the spending from the HSA was used for medical purposes and not reimbursed.
  • The amount you contributed yourself by depositing a check or making a bank transfer.
  • 5498-SA if you have it (optional).

Financial Assets.

  • Interest income statements (1099-INT, 1099-OID). Please do not forget the interest paid by the IRS and states.
  • Dividend income statements (1099-DIV).
  • Proceeds from stock, mutual fund, and bond sale (1099-B).
  • Virtual currencies (faq).
  • RSU (Restricted Stock Unit) sale or “sale to cover”.
  • ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan) sale:
    • Form 3922 covering all of the stocks from the purchasing years or
    • Purchase and Sale Confirmations from your broker (if Form 3922 is not available).
    • Specify the document that contains the ESPP sale along with number of shares sold, and proceeds received.
    • For tax theory, see Tax notes: ISO, ESPP, and RSU.
  • ISO (Incentive Stock Option) sale:
    • Form 3921 covering all of the stocks from the grant years or
    • Release and sale Confirmations from your broker (if Form 3922 is not available).
    • Specify the document that contains the ESPP sale along with number of shares sold, and proceeds received.
    • For tax theory, see Tax notes: ISO, ESPP, and RSU.
  • Early withdrawal penalties on CDs and other time deposits.
  • E*Trade Stock Plan Transactions Supplemental Info.

Landlord (Property Owner Renting Out Space) or Rental Business.

Please use the rental Google sheets to organize your expenses. If you want to do it the hard way (this feature will be deprecated), here is a list:

  • Rent received.
  • Advertising.
  • Home-Owner Association (HOA) fees.
  • Auto and travel (see “Auto expenses for business use” section).
  • Cleaning and maintenance.
  • Commissions.
  • Gardening
  • Home insurance.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
  • Legal and other professional fees (tax preparation fee).
  • Management fees.
  • The mortgage interest paid to banks, etc.
  • Other interests.
  • Painting and decorating.
  • Pest control.
  • Plumbing and electrical.
  • Repairs.
  • Supplies.
  • Taxes.
  • Telephone and internet (provided to tenants).
  • Utilities.
  • FIRST-YEAR RENTAL: Rental starting date (MM/DD/YYYY).
  • FIRST-YEAR RENTAL: Closing document, aka settlement doc, HUD-1, ALTA, which is 2-3 pages with numbers (not words for lawyers).
  • FIRST-YEAR RENTAL: Term of loan (e.g. 15 years, 30 years).
  • FIRST-YEAR RENTAL: Assessment near the rental starting date from the county website.
  • PARTIAL YEAR AND MIXED: Specify expenses for what time period, and for what space (entire house or the rental rooms).
  • Auto expenses for rental business.

Sale of Primary Residence or Rental Home

  • 1099-S if issued as part of closing process.
  • Both Closing documents when you bought and sold the property.
  • A spreadsheet listing of major improvements (that increase the home value) and sales expenses not in closing documents.
    • Date
    • Description of improvement or sale expense
    • Amount

The IRS allows for a tax exclusion of up to $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing jointly) of capital gains from the sale of a primary residence under certain conditions as specified in IRC 121.

The conditions are:

  • The property must be the taxpayer’s main home and owned by the taxpayer for at least two of the five years preceding the sale.
  • The exclusion can only be claimed once every two years.

It’s important to note that this exclusion may have limits or not apply in certain situations, such as if the home was used as a rental property, if the taxpayer was involved in a 1031 exchange.

If you qualify for the exclusion, and the capital gain is clearly within the limit, then you do not need to submit the list of improvements and expenses related to the sale.

Homeowner and Itemizing Items

Provide the information when:

  • You have a large home mortgage payment (more than the standard deduction minus 10,000), or
  • You live in a state which allows state itemized deduction while using the federal standard deduction

    The states that allow separate state itemized deduction:

    • CA
    • DE
    • NY

    The states that do not allow separate state itemized deduction:

    • MD
    • VA

Generally, you itemize expenses if you own a home, or have large deductible items such as donations, medical expenses, and state tax paid.

Filing Status Standard Deduction Amount
Single $12,950
Married Filing Jointly & Surviving Spouse $25,900
Married Filing Separately $12,950
Head of Household $19,400

The itemized deduction items:

  • Mortgage and home equity interests Form 1098.
  • (The principal amount paid for the year OR equivalently the ending principal balance on 12/31/2023 OR the average balance) IF the borrowed amount exceeds 750K. The information can be obtained in one of the following ways:
    • Form 1098.
    • Mortgage statements of December 2023 and January 2024.
    • Use the mortgage calculator.
    • For mortgage loans with uneven payments, please provide the average balance by adding the outstanding balance of a debt on each month during the taxable year that the debt is secured by a qualified residence, and dividing the sum by the number of months during the taxable year that the residence is a qualified residence, per Reg §1.163-10T.
  • Closing document if you bought or refinanced your home in current year.
  • Real estate tax (property tax). If it is not on Form 1098, you can get it from your county:
  • Energy property based on manufacturer’s certification document.
  • Personal Property Tax (car tax).
    • CA: The vehicle license fee is deductible, use this page to find the vehicle license fee.
    • MA: Vehicle excise tax.
    • VA: Car tax is deductible. If your car is in Fairfax county, use this page to get your car tax. In Fairfax city, use this page.
    • WA: In most major metropolitan areas of Pierce, King, and Snohomish counties of Washington state, Regional Transit Authority tax RTA excise tax which is a line item in car registration is deductible, use this page to find the RTA tax.
  • Gifts to charity (cash).
  • Gifts to charity (non-cash).
  • Un-reimbursement expenses related to volunteer work.
  • Investment interest (margin interest).
  • After-tax medical expenses above 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Healthy, high-income individuals should use pre-tax HSA or MFS.
    • Prescription.
    • Insurance premiums.
    • Medical supplies.
    • Eye exams.
    • Glasses.
    • Contacts.
    • Co-pays.
    • Medical transportation (miles).
    • Long-term care insurance premium up to a maximum based on your age:
      • $450 for ages 40 or under.
      • $850 for ages between 41 to 50
      • $1,690 for ages between 51 to 60
      • $4,520 for ages between 61 to 70
      • $5,640 for ages 71 or over

Other Separately Accounted Expenses.

  • Adoption expenses.
  • Alimony paid.
  • Moving expenses (for a military move, and move to following states) if you drove, you can use mileage plus hotel; if you flew, the air ticket.

    The states that allow moving expenses include:

    • CA
    • MA

Child and Dependent Care Expenses

  • Child name for whom the care was given.
  • Name of the provider.
  • Address of the provider.
  • Tax ID or SSN of the provider.
  • The amount you paid.

Please create a list by child and by care provider, use Google sheet if necessary.

/* Tuition for education does not count as care, but care with incidental education element does. For details, please click IRS Publication 503. */

Education Expenses of You or Your Dependents

  • Tuition and Education fees: 1098-T, if box 1 (payments received) is empty also student account statement or bank transfer showing the amount paid).
  • Student Loan interest: 1098-E.
  • Educator Expense Deduction up to $250 for K-12 teachers.

Self Employed Business (Sole Proprietorship).

Please use the self-employed business expense Google sheet guide you through the process.

If you provide the business income and expenses manually, here is the list:

  • Business income (1099-NEC and own records).
  • Partnership SE income (Schedules K-1).
  • Employment taxes and other retirement plan contributions.
  • Auto loans and leases if for business use.
  • Auto expenses (see “Auto expenses for business use” section).
  • Entertainment and meals.
  • Job hunting expenses.
  • Lodging.
  • Home office.
  • Professional dues.
  • Union dues.
  • Publications.
  • Research expenses.
  • Safety equipment.
  • Supplies.
  • Telephones.
  • Tools and equipment.
  • Travel.
  • Uniform and cost of cleaning.
  • Internet expenses if for business use.

Tesla and Other Electric Vehicle Credit

If your vehicle is qualified, please provide:

  • Year.
  • Make.
  • Model.
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
  • Date Placed in service (date bought).
  • Price or sales receipt.
  • 2022 tax return (if I did not filed your return) for AGI verification.
  • Home charge station receipt.

In addition, your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) may not exceed:

  • $300,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • $225,000 for heads of households.
  • $150,000 for all other filers.

Medical Insurance Documents

Miscellaneous Documents.

  • Last year’s federal and state tax returns (helpful but not absolutely required).
  • IRA, KEOGH, and other retirement plan contributions (if self-employed, identify as for self or employees).
  • Records to document casualties or theft losses.
  • Records for any other expenditures that may be deductible.
  • Records for any other revenue for sales of property that may be taxable or reportable.
  • Federal, state, and local estimated income tax paid for the tax year.
  • Employment taxes and other business taxes paid for the tax year.
  • NY and NJ require driver’s license ID, issuing state, expiration date, and issue date, or simply upload images of the front and back of your driver’s license if you have one.

State-Specific Deductions.

  • All states: 529 college savings plan. Please list:
    • Account number.
    • Owner name.
    • beneficiary name.
    • Amount contributed in 2023.
  • MA: rent paid.
    • landlord’s name
    • landlord’s address
    • total rent paid IN the year.
  • MA: commuter expense (MBTA, E-ZPass).
  • NJ: rent or property tax paid.
  • VA: Long-term insurance premium is a state deduction.

Use Tax

Some states impose use tax on items purchased from out-of-state or foreign sellers that would have otherwise been subject to sales tax if purchased within the state. Please provide the total amount of these purchases, as well as the sales or use tax already paid to another state.


ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) Applicant (the Person Who Needs ITIN) Only:

  • Country of birth:
  • Country of citizenship:
  • Type of US visa:
  • Visa number (red letter on the visa):
  • Visa expiration date (MM/DD/YYYY):
  • Passport issued by:
  • Passport Number:
  • Passport Expiration date (MM/DD/YYYY):
  • Date of entry into the United States (MM/DD/YYYY):
  • The photo page of the applicant’s passport.
  • The visa page of the applicant’s passport.
  • The most recent entry stamp page of the applicant’s passport.
  • The most recent school transcript (For children under 18).

Nonresident Alien

  • Which country are you a citizen of (China, India, or other countries)?
  • If the status ever changed in the current year or a prior year, the date of change (MM/DD/YYYY). For example, “10/01/2023 from F1 to H1B.”
  • How many days (including partial days) have you stayed in the US in 2023, 2022, and 2021 respectively? Do not count days when you were a nonresident with F or J visa. You can get your travel history outside the United States from the I94 Website and use the Days Calculator to compute days between two dates.
  • Is the number of days in the US in 2023 consistent with the location information provided earlier?
  • Have you applied for a green card (i.e. submitted I-140)?
  • Have you received form 1042-S?
  • Does any wage document include a treaty deduction (we cannot deduct twice)?
  • [New client only] Did you file last year? If so, what form was used (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, 1040NR-EZ)?
  • [New client only] In what years have you filed federal taxes claiming US-China tax treaty 20(c)? You do not need to answer the question if you have provided last year’s return.

Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) / Foreign Tax Credit (FTC)

/* If you have any foreign names or addresses, please provide them in the original language in addition to the English translation. If I am familiar with a standard translation, I will use it. */

  • Of what country are you a citizen/national?
  • Visa in the foreign country, how long does it need to renew?
  • Foreign residency first established (i.e. when did you establish the foreign residency)?
  • Your foreign home address including postal code. Own or rent?
  • Employer’s name.
  • Employer’s foreign address including postal code.
  • Employer’s U.S. address if it has one.
  • Income earned in U.S. dollars, use IRS published conversion rate:
County Currency 1.00 USD in 2023
Australia Dollar 1.506
Canada Dollar 1.350
China Yuan 7.075
Hong Kong Dollar 7.829
India Rupee 82.572
Japan Yen 140.511
  • Do you pay income tax to a foreign country on the foreign earned income? If so, please provide a document showing taxable income and tax paid.
  • List travel history to and from the US in the format below from 01/01/2019 until now.
    • 11/01/2019 - 06/31/2021 in China.
    • 07/01/2020 - 07/15/2023 in the US, earned $0.
    • 07/16/2022 - 02/19/2024 in China.
  • Did you maintain a home in the United States while living abroad?
    • If yes, please provide the address of your home, rented or not, the names of the occupants, and their relationship to you.
  • The latest year you filed foreign earned income exclusion (Form 2555)?
  • Qualified foreign housing expenses:
    • Rent
    • Utilities (except for telephone, TV services, and internet)
    • Personal property insurance (such as homeowner’s or renter’s insurance)
    • Leasing fees
    • Furniture rental
    • Parking rental
    • Repairs
  • Qualified foreign housing expenses do NOT include:
    • Mortgage payments
    • Domestic labor (maids, housekeepers, etc.)
    • Purchased furniture
    • Anything deemed “lavish or extravagant”

Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (aka FBAR, FinCen Form 114, FATCA) and Form 8938.

If you meet the reporting requirement, please provide information on EACH of the accounts as follows:

  • Bank name.
  • Type (Bank, Securities, Other - Please specify).
  • Owner if married file jointly (Taxpayer - the person listed first on the tax form, Spouse, or Joint).
  • Address in English including postal code (can use headquarter’s address).
  • Account number.
  • The maximum value of the account during the calendar year in US dollars (not taxable).
  • Interest generated from the account in US dollars (taxable).
  • Dividends generated from the account in US dollars (taxable).

Please convert to U.S. dollars using the end of the calendar year exchange rate and report in U.S. dollars, you can use the Currency Exchange Rates Converter from the Treasury FiscalData. These are the selected exchange rates on 12/31/2023:

US Dollar 1.00 USD on 12/31/2023
Australia-Dollar 1.472
Canada-Dollar 1.326
China-Renminbi 7.104
Hong Kong-Dollar 7.811
India-Rupee 83.162
Japan-Yen 141.470

A Resident Received a Gift From a Nonresident

When a citizen or resident alien receives a gift1 exceeding $100,000 from a nonresident alien or from a group of related nonresident aliens, they are required to file Form 3520. However, no tax is due on this gift.

The limit applies individually to each recipient, not to a husband and wife collectively. For example, if a husband receives $90,000 and a wife receives $110,000, only the wife is required to file the form, as her amount exceeds the specified limit.

If you meet the filing requirement, please compile a list of gifts received, including dates, descriptions of the gift, amounts. Please organize a separate table for each recipient, listing all entries in chronological order. Example:

Date Recipient Description Amount
04/15/2023 Xiaohua Mao Cash $80,000
10/15/2023 Xiaohua Mao Cash $80,000
Total     $160,000

1 According to the IRS, a gift is defined as:

Any transfer to an individual, either directly or indirectly, where full consideration (measured in money or money’s worth) is not received in return.

If the transaction is not a gift but rather a loan or a movement of your personal funds, then there’s no need to file Form 3520. However, it’s essential to maintain a detailed record of the funds’ source and their intended use in case of inquiries from the “big brother”.

A Resident Given a Gift

If you give a gift of more than the annual exclusion limit of $17,000 (2023), you must file Form 709. However, you do not have to pay gift tax unless your lifetime gifts exceed the lifetime gift tax limit of $12.92 million (2023). This is the total amount of money or property that you can give away during your lifetime without having to pay gift tax.

Please provide:

  • Last filed form 709.
  • Donee’s name.
  • Donne’s address.
  • Relationship to the donor (if any).
  • Description of gift.
  • If the gift was of securities, give CUSIP no.
  • If a closely held entity, give EIN.

I hope this checklist helps you to prepare your tax documents.