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There's nothing more aggravating when preparing an income tax return than missing key pieces of information or having inaccurate information. Whether you're going to prepare your taxes yourself with the help of Turbo Tax, or you're having a professional do them, get organized before you start to make the process easier.

Gather the social security numbers of everyone who will be included on the tax return. This is especially important if you've had a new baby. Get together all the forms you've received in the mail like W-2 wage statements, 1099s for dividends and interest, 1098s for mortgage interest paid, receipts for property taxes paid and charitable contributions made.

If you're self-employed, you'll have lots more documentation to get together relative to your business, too. And don't forget to keep all the information you've gathered with your tax return when it's done! If you ever get audited, it will make things much easier.

If you are going to file electronically, have a blank check from your checking account ready. It will make it easier when it's time to enter your bank numbers to get your refund direct deposited.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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