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We all love surprises, unless they’re terrible.

Like when it’s midnight on Tax Day and you can’t find your middle child’s Social Security number.

When it comes to doing your taxes, boring is good. So, start now to gather all the information you’ll need from employers, financial institutions, schools, and others - then enjoy a pleasant, though boring, evening doing your taxes.

Whether you do your own taxes or hire a professional, you’ll need to provide information about you, your income, and your expenses. Among other things, the IRS will need to know who you are - and how to pay you if you get a refund.

The agency also needs a record of all your earned income. So, you’ll need Social Security numbers, credit union or bank account numbers, and more. You’ll also need to report all earned money from employment, pensions, and even jury duty.

If you choose to itemize your deductions, you’ll need documents to show how much interest you paid on your home mortgage or student loans, taxes you paid, charitable donations you made, medical bills, and any child care or other dependent card expenses.

Read the full article for a checklist of important items you may need to gather before doing your taxes. It’s not an exhaustive list, but includes many of the forms and other documents you may need. Then, when it’s time to prepare your taxes, you may find it surprisingly painless.

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