April 15 is quickly approaching, and that means so is your deadline for filing taxes. If you've done your taxes before, then this season will be breeze. However, if this is your first time, take a look at the tips below:
1. Find out if you need to file
Knowing whether or not you have to file a tax return is based on several things, including age, marital status, income, dependency status and a few other miscellaneous items. The IRS provides a quiz on their site that will ask you questions to determine whether or not you're required to file. If you're not sure, it's a great tool to use. Even if you're not required to file, you might want to anyway – you'll most likely receive a refund.
2. Decide how you're going to file
There are a myriad ways to file your taxes, anywhere from seeking out financial services to filling out an online form. If this is your first time, you may want the help. Professionals can either do it for you completely or offer you advice to optimize your refund. If you'd prefer to do it yourself, online programs will allow you to talk with someone if you need help or have a question.
3. Gather anything you'll need
The most important documents you'll need to have with you are your W-2s. If you had more than one job the previous year, make sure you have all of them. Your tax return won't be accurate if you're missing one. If you don't know your social security number, make sure you have your card with you. The same goes with your banking information.
4. Determine which form to use
There are three different forms you can use to file taxes – 1040, 1040A and 1040EZ, according to the IRS. The latter is the easiest to fill out. If you're under 65, filing as single or married jointly, have no dependents and have an annual income less than $100,000, among other things, this might be the form for you. If you can't use 1040EZ, 1040A would be the next one to check out, according to the IRS directions for filing taxes. In order to use this form, you must meet six requirements, including making less than $100,000 annual income, not itemizing deductions and having only adjustments such as student loans, tuition and fees, educator expenses and IRA deductions. For all other things, file form 1040.
5. Sit down and get to work
Your W-2s are next to you, you have your account and SSN information and your laptop is open to whatever filing program you decided to use. All that's left to do is go through and enter the information from your W-2s. Make sure you enter everything correctly, don't try and rush it. If you do it correct the first time, you won't have to do it again. Most importantly, follow the directions. If you don't know what you're doing, the easiest thing is to do what the program is telling you to do.
6. Check and double check
You want to make sure that all the information that you have entered into the form is correct – check spelling, numbers and math. According to CNN Money, some of the most common filing errors are entering the wrong SSN or account number, spelling your name wrong and claiming the wrong number of credits and deductions. Double check everything before you submit it so you don't have to fill it out again.
While these tips are hopefully helpful, nothing can replace professional advice. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to consult your tax advisor.