If you are preparing to file your taxes for the first time, you may find the idea a little daunting. You have likely heard stories in the media and from your parents about the hassles that filing taxes can involve. Instead of viewing filing your taxes as being a headache, you should instead view it as a way in which you might get back some of the money that you paid to the government out of your paychecks during the year.
People who can be claimed as dependents on others’ tax returns do not have to file tax returns if they made less than $6,350 in 2017. If you are under age 65 and no one else is claiming you as a dependent, you do not have to file a tax return if you made less than $10,500. However, even if you are not required to file a tax return, you should if you had taxes withheld from your paychecks. If you don’t file, you are simply giving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a donation of money that you would otherwise receive as a refund.
Here are some tips to help you as you get ready to file your taxes for the first time.
For decades, people had to file their taxes by hand using paper forms and long instruction booklets. This method takes a substantial amount of time, and you are more likely to make mistakes. Instead of preparing your taxes and filing them through the mail, you should instead choose electronic filing.
Through the IRS website, there are a number of different companies that have partnered with the government to offer electronic filing of your taxes. You can simply choose one for which you qualify and enter your information.
The programs make the calculations for you and are virtually error-free. When you are finished with your return, you will be given the option of signing it electronically and submitting it. If you do, it will be sent to the IRS, and you will receive a confirmation that it has been received within about 24 hours. When you choose to file your taxes electronically and select the direct deposit option, you can also expect to receive your refund much faster.
File Your Taxes Yourself
When you are first starting your life as a taxpayer, there is no need for you to pay someone to file your taxes for you. Your tax return is likely to be simple and straightforward. Instead of handing a professional tax preparer some of your hard-earned money, you should save the expense and file them yourself. The online programs that were previously described also make the process simple and walk you through the process step-by-step.
Standard or Itemized Deductions?
You might have heard of standardized and itemized deductions, and you may be uncertain which to choose. In most cases, new taxpayers will find that the standard deduction is higher than what they might be able to claim through itemizing. You can check by adding up your itemized deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040. If they are less than the standard deduction, don’t itemize and instead select the standard deduction that applies to your filing status.
Get Organized Before Starting
Before you get started on preparing your taxes, it is important for you to get organized. You will need to gather all the documents and forms that you will need. These will include the W-2 forms that you received from your employers. If you performed any contract work, you should also gather your 1099s. People who have made student loan payments during the year will have received documents that show the interest that they paid on their loans during the year.
If you paid mortgage interest or property taxes, you will want to gather those documents as well. If you will be itemizing your deductions, you will need to use Form 1040 and Schedule A. If you will not be itemizing, you can instead use Form 1040A or 1040 EZ. People who are itemizing deductions should gather all the receipts that they have for the deductions that they plan to claim. Once you have everything gathered together and organized, you can begin to file your taxes.
While the idea of filing your taxes for the first time might seem a little scary, you will likely find that the process is much simpler than you imagined. By getting organized before you begin the filing process and choosing to file electronically yourself, you might soon receive a notification that your refund deposit has arrived in your bank account. You might even find that you look forward to tax season next year.