The good news is that the IRS has pushed the filing date back to April 17th! The bad news is that tax preparers are busy and it may be difficult to get help promptly. Lucky for you, I’ve pulled together a few tips to help this most dreaded of chores pass by smoothly.
Whether you are filing your taxes on your own or hiring a professional, you will need to have certain items at your disposal. It’s a good idea to gather all of them at once so you don’t have to go searching for them while you are in the process of completing the tax forms.
- Last year’s tax return
- All W2s and 1099 forms that you received.
- Relevant receipts for charitable donations, childcare, and medical expenses, and any that you have for your business (if applicable).
- Statements from all investments and bank accounts.
- Social security numbers for you, your spouse, and your dependents.
- Your dependents’ social security numbers.
Tax Preparation Options
Before you can file, you’ll need to decide which way you are going to do it. Gone are the days of the dozens of forms that you need to fill out with a pencil. Your options include online software and tax preparers in most strip malls as well as a tax professional that you hire to do the work for you.
Online Options include TurboTax, Tax Act, and H&R Block at Home. Each of these will prompt you to fill in the necessary areas of the tax forms. They will also do all the calculations for you (No more worries that you added wrong.) as well as prompt you for any deductions that you may have missed. All will file your taxes for you (in some cases for free) at a relatively low rate compared to the cost of a tax preparer. Each site also offers tips for filing last year’s taxes as well as preparing for this year’s in advance.
If your income is less than $58,000 you may be able to use the free version of these programs. Check out the IRS’s website for further information on FreeFile.
If you don’t think you will be able to complete your taxes by the April 17th deadline, check out the IRS website for tips on how to file an extension.