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5 Tips for First Time Tax Filers

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:

  • W-2: Your employer will give you this form, which shows your total wages and income tax withholding for the year.
  • Form 1099-MISC: If you earned income from freelancing or a side gig, you might receive this form from your employer(s) depending on how much you earned. 
  • Form 1098-T: If you're a college student, your school will send you this statement. It includes information you'll report to claim education credits, such as tuition, scholarships or grants.
  • Form 1098-E: If you paid interest on your student loans, you can generally take a tax deduction. This form shows you how much student loan interest you paid during the year.
  • Form 1040: This is the form you'll fill out with your information to file your taxes. 

#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!

The information contained in this article is for education and informational purposes only, and does not constitute professional advice. The information provided is subjective and you should always do your own research before making decisions. While reasonable efforts are made to include accurate and up-to-date information, Wright-Patt Credit Union makes no warranties or representations of any kind concerning the accuracy, timeliness or suitability of the information provided for any purpose. Validity of the content is not guaranteed and you are strongly urged to consult a professional or other authority in the appropriate field, such as a tax professional, before acting on any of the content.​​