Tax season is here, which means it's time to start thinking about when, where and how you'll file your tax return, if you haven't done so already.
If this is the first time you're filing taxes on your own, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. That's understandable! With a little planning, you can get through tax season with less stress.
Take a look at these helpful tips for first-time tax filers:
#1: Determine your filing status
Your filing status is used to determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits and your correct tax. It's based on your age, marital status and other factors. If you're not sure what filing status applies to you, the IRS has an online tool to help.
Even if you're earning your own money, you may still receive financial support from your parents for housing, living expenses or school tuition. If so, your parents might still claim you as a dependent on their own return. Before you file, talk to your parents and get on the same page.
#2: Plan to file early
You don't have to wait until April to file your taxes—in fact, it's best to file as soon as you have your paperwork in order. Waiting until the last minute will only make the process more stressful and could lead to errors. Plus, the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll receive a refund (if you're owed one!).
#3: Gather up your paperwork
There are several important forms you'll need to complete your tax return. These documents may be sent to you via mail or email and some might even be downloadable online. Examples of the forms you may need include:
#4: Decide how you want to prepare your taxes
You can prepare your taxes on your own, use tax software or work with a tax professional. If you earn less than $72,000 per year, you're eligible for Free File, which allows you to access tax software for free through an IRS partner site. You can also choose whether you want to file your taxes electronically (e-filing) or by paper. The IRS recommends e-filing because it's faster to process than paper returns. If you're expecting a refund, e-filing can help you get your money sooner!
#5: Have a plan for your refund
How you use your tax refund is up to you—it's your money! If you have a certain goal in mind, such as buying a car or getting an apartment, you could use part of your refund to kickstart your savings. Depositing your funds in a savings account will keep your money safe and give it a chance to grow.
If you need some extra help filing your taxes for the first time, the IRS has many free resources to guide you through the process. Remember to start early and take your time. You can do it!
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