Getting Ready

Taxes Made Easy: Everything You'll Need to Get Ready for Tax Season

Need to know where to begin with your taxes? The process doesn’t have to be stressful. The beauty of tax season is that it comes just once a year and allows you to get your taxes filed and out of the way. If you’re curious about what’s required of you come tax time, we’ve got everything you need to know – including how to get ready for the big day.

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Tax-time Preparation Tips

It doesn’t matter if this is your first tax return or your 15th, and some things never change when preparing for tax season. That’s why we offer up these tips on getting ready for tax time:

Get organized

Make sure you have all the correct forms in the proper order, so nothing gets lost in translation.

Be honest

You don't want to pay more taxes than you have to, but your best bet is always to claim all of the available deductions.

Don't leave out details

Details are what make your taxes complete. So be sure to include all of the information required of you when filing your taxes.

Paperwork is vital

Keep good records and make copies of all your important documents.

File on time

Delayed filings can lead to fees and penalties, so make sure to file on time or early.

Use proper forms

Maximize your deductions, minimize your taxable income and ensure that your tax information is correct by using the proper forms (W-2s, 1099s, etc.).

Be aware of deadlines

The tax deadline is April 15, so be sure to file well before this date.

Seek professional advice

If you need assistance, find an accountant who will be able to provide knowledgeable tax advice.

Get a Jump on Your Taxes: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve never done your taxes before, getting started early is the best way to go. That’s why we recommend looking at what’s required of you when it comes to filing your taxes so that you can be prepared come tax time. Also, keep in mind that there are certain forms and documents you’ll need for specific circumstances or deductions (i.e., 1099-MISC if hired by an individual).

Gather all of your personal information:

Your name, address, social security number, and salary are all required of you when filing your taxes. Keeping up with this information from year to year will make the process much more efficient.

Organize all of your documents:

Make a file folder for current and past years’ tax returns to gather the necessary forms or papers you’ll need to complete your return. Some records you’ll need include pay stubs, investment income, social security benefits, and any miscellaneous income.

Decide how you plan to file:

Your name, address, social security number, and salary are all required of you when filing your taxes. Keeping up with this information from year to year will make the process much more efficient.

Consider any adjustments, credits, and deductions:

Do you have dependents? Do these dependents have child care expenses? Is your home office eligible for deductions? Student loans or moving expenses? Answering questions like these will help maximize your tax return.

Double-check forms, numbers, and papers:

Mistakes are easy to make, especially in files full of important information. Double-checking all of your calculations, documents, and numbers will help ensure that your return is 100 percent accurate.

Prepare for filing time:

Again, whether you’re an experienced tax filer or this is the first time around, consider any particular circumstances that may change how you usually file. A new mortgage, home equity loan, or a new job could all mean changes in what you need to do come filing time.

Determine what forms you'll need:

Forms that are usually required for filing include W-2s, 1099s, and Schedule C (self-employed). These can be found on the IRS website under ‘Forms.’

File as early as possible:

Filing before April 15 will help avoid any penalties for late filing.

Be aware of tax deadlines:

If you’re self-employed, there are a few additional forms to fill out and due dates that apply specifically to your situation. For example, if you have an LLC or pass-through taxes, the deadline for quarterly estimated tax payments is April 15 (for 1040).
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