Tax season can be a stressful time for many Americans. There are deadlines to consider, filing when circumstances with family may have changed, or new income to consider. It is extremely important to know when taxes are due for the year, not only get a head start, but also to avoid penalties. For many, getting a head start on tax season can mean the difference between scrambling to get paperwork in order and being composed when tax season rolls around. Getting a head start on taxes can be done fairly easily. Even if a person is not filing their taxes by themselves, there are many organizational things that can be done to make the process easier and less time consuming.
Be Informed About the Process
For an individual trying to prepare for tax season, it may be helpful to understand the difference between federal and state taxes , knowing the due date, and knowing exactly what a tax return is. Tax returns are essentially statements of income for the IRS, so they can fairly and accurately figure out how much of that income can be taxed. Almost everyone who earns income in the United States is subject to their income being taxed. These taxes are used to fund everything from public education to the Department of Defense. To get a head start on tax season, it may be useful to know about income and how to go about filing taxes:
Be Informed about what Taxable Income is and what Expenses are Tax Deductible
This is important because it can prevent mistakes and may help a person get the most from their tax return. When it comes to taxable income, most people think of wages or salaries being the majority of what makes up taxed income. However taxable income is all gross pay a person receives, including income outside of their everyday job. Other than wages/salaries, the two other categories of taxable income include; interest income– any income received from acquiring any form of interest, and miscellaneous income- this is any other type of income that a person may receive. To learn more about these a filer can go straight to the IRS webpage about taxable income.
On the other hand, tax deductions reduce the amount of income that can be taxed. Tax deductions include any expenses that are used to make income. Many people find that keeping track of these expenses is very helpful when tax season rolls around. For those who do not, these expenses can be calculated pretty easily and accurately.
Figure Out How You Want to File Taxes
There are generally three ways to file taxes. To get a head start on tax season it can be helpful to decide on the method in which taxes will be filed. Taxes can be filed in the following ways:
- The Filer Themselves- Americans can find all the necessary forms to file taxes online through the IRS. They can print, fill them out, and then mail them straight to the IRS.
- Online through Tax Software- There are plenty of trusted tax filing software available. The software will walk the customer through the process by asking questions. There is often a fee associated with this form of filing, but sometimes this can be waived by the employer or for low income individuals.
- Through A Tax Filing Professional- There are many tax filing businesses/professionals that can file taxes for people. This may require an appointment and travel. A person will bring in their tax information and a professional will file and mail the taxes for them. This method generally also has a fee associated with it.
Keep in mind if mailing, the tax return must reach the IRS before the due date. Many people doing taxes last minute have to use online software because it is the only method that sends the information instantly. If wanting to avoid online filing, taxes should be filed well before the cutoff date. If a person prepares early enough, they can have the option to choose between methods.
Get Paper Work Organized Before Tax Season
This an important part of the tax filing process. Getting organized before sitting down to fill out tax information can save time and prevent mistakes on a tax return when it is filed. There are a few documents to get together before filing taxes. These documents include all the tax forms that are sent from an employer(s), like a W2 or a 1099. These forms have crucial tax information, such as annual income and possible deductions/exemptions. In addition to this, others may have kept logs/journals for any other work-related deductions.
Another thing to consider when getting organized for tax season, is filing status. For example, if a person is now married and filing jointly, their spouse’s information should also be collected and organized before filing taxes.
Getting a head start on filing taxes can be fairly easy, and it is a good way to eliminate the stress that comes with filing. In order to get ahead, it is crucial that the tax filer understands what exactly they are filing on their tax return, the options they have for filing, and how organizing throughout the year can benefit them. By having this knowledge and taking these steps, the tax filing process can be done both quickly and accurately.