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Its Tax Time How To File Your Taxes

Updated on May 7, 2011

Yes it is that time of year again; the dreaded tax season. Every person living in the United States and every United States citizen living abroad must file a tax return by April 15th. Even children who have reached a certain level of income must file. As a former employee for a CPA firm I can speak from personal experience the horrors that can come from filing taxes. I have seen it all. Truly to be able to file your taxes properly it really starts before this time of year. Every year I have a file folder that I use specifically for my tax return information. There are different ways you can file this information by type or by month to name a few. But keeping the information organized can help to decrease the amount of stress that filing your taxes can cause. This seems simple enough however every year most Americans scramble to get their information together to do their taxes either by themselves or with the help of others.

I am specifically talking about individual taxpayers but of course there are other types; self employed, business, corporations and so on. Some people have very easy taxes to file and only need to file a 1040 EZ form while others have more complex taxes and need to file a 1040 with additional schedules attached.

There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you file your taxes to make things easier;

  1. Do you need to file? If your income is too low you may not need to file at all.

  2. What is your filing status? There are several to choose from; single, head of household, married filing jointly and married filing separately.

  3. Do you have any dependents? If so how many make sure you have their information handy for filing.

  4. What is your income? There are many different types of income and there are different schedules for this income depending on type and how it is earned. The most common comes as a W-2 from the company that you work for.

  5. What are your income adjustments? Adjustments are certain expenses which directly reduce your total income. These can many numerous things such as classroom expenses for teachers, student loan interests for students, moving expenses and many more.

  6. What are your deductions? You have two to choose from standard deductions or itemized deductions of course you want to take the higher amount.

  7. What is your income tax? To figure this out you take your taxable income and subtract your adjustments, deductions and exemptions then you can look at tax tables to figure out your income tax.

  8. What are your credits? There are many different types of tax credits; child care, elderly disabled, energy, charity and many more.

  9. Do you have any additional taxes? This might be true if you are self employed for example and again there are other possible additional taxes as well.

  10. What are your total payments? Your total payments are taxes that have been paid by you for example if you had estimated tax payments or earned income credits.

  11. Did you overpay or underpay? If you overpaid then you will have a refund if you underpaid then you will owe and have to pay the government.

  12. Do you have the right forms? There are many different forms to use so make sure you have the correct forms to file. Sometimes these forms can be found at your local post office, library or community center.

  13. Do you need help filing? There are many different services that you can utilize if you are unable to file on your own or need additional help filing on your own.

  14. Do you need to file an extension? If you need more time to file your return there is a form to extend your filing date by six months. Form 4868 gives you until October 15th to file your tax return. However if you owe you still have to submit a payment to the IRS by April 15th or you will incur penalties and fees.

  15. Do you need to make payments? If you need to make payments because you cannot pay the amount of tax you owe you can either complete Form 9465 Installment Agreement Request or you can create your own written request for monthly payment amounts. However there will be an interest charge and a late payment tax penalty for the monies not paid by April 15th. In addition if you have a severe hardship you can use Form 1127 for a special tax payment extension.

Filing on your own –

TurboTax – Is a quick and simple way to file your taxes. The program is user friendly and helps guide you through your tax preparation. Turbo Tax even keeps your previous returns on file for easy access. Some of the terminology can be a bit confusing for new users; however the process is not too painful.

Library/Community Centers – Some libraries and community centers offer free tax help for people in the community. Contact those places to see if and when they offer the service. Because it is free try going as early as possible to avoid the tax deadline rush.

Free Tax Help – There are also other institutions that offer free tax help you just have to check your neighborhood to see who is offering what and when. These free services can be incredibly helpful in figuring out your taxes.

IRS – The Internal Revenue Service website has a lot of helpful information for filing your tax return as well as what forms to use for filing.

Filing with help –

There are many places to go to for help on filing taxes. There are tax preparation offices.

H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service – Are all tax preparation offices that offer tax preparation for a fee. These fees can be expensive depending on how they charge. Some charge extra for each W-2 you have and others charge by the number of pages in your return. If your return is easy to do it would be best to do it on your own and save your money.

CPA Firms – CPA firms can be incredibly expensive but well worth it if you have a business or a very difficult tax return. However if your tax return is simple and you are expecting a refund you could end up paying more than your refund just to file.

Tax season can be extremely stressful especially if you are not organized. To make things less stressful get organized. Take the time to file any information for your taxes as soon as you get it. This will help you when it comes to tax time. Be sure to get help when you need it and make sure that when you are getting help that you really do need it or else you will be paying more than is necessary to file your taxes.

How to File Your Taxes Online

How to File Your Taxes Online – Using Turbo Tax

How to File Your Taxes Online : Free Filing


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Marlo, I have not used Taxact but have a girlfriend who swears by it. So take a try and tell me what you think about it.

    • MarloByDesign profile image

      MarloByDesign 8 years ago from United States

      I am going to try TaxAct this year. What do you think of that one?