Expert tips for doing your own taxes online
Thanks to the convenience of online tax return preparation websites, more Americans are doing their own taxes. Do-it-yourself tax preparation solutions give taxpayers a fast, convenient and affordable way to file income tax returns.
"Doing your own taxes really isn't as daunting as it may seem," says Jessi Dolmage, spokesperson for TaxACT. "Tax preparation solutions put the complicated tax code in plain English and give step-by-step instructions from start to finish. If you have questions, they offer resources and experts for help."
Dolmage says most brands allow you to try their products risk-free. You can use online products without creating an account, and downloadable software often includes money-back guarantees.
Whether you love or hate income tax season, save time and maybe even some money using these simple tips.
Start by gathering all your tax forms and documents, including:
- Last year's federal return (and your state return if applicable) for comparison purposes
- Form W-2 for wages, tips and pensions - keep in mind employers have until Jan. 31 to distribute to employees
- Form 1099 for interest, dividends, state tax refunds, retirement plan distributions and unemployment - issuers have until Jan. 31 to distribute
- Form 1098 for mortgage interest paid
- Retirement plan statements
- Schedule K-1 from partnerships, S corporations, estates and trusts
- Estimated tax payments
- If you itemize deductions: receipts for health care expenses, state and local income or sales taxes paid, mortgage interest and points, charitable gifts, work-related costs, investment expenses, and casualty and theft losses
- If you're a business owner, documents related to income statements (1099-MISC and payment stubs not reported on 1099s), health insurance payments and pension plan contributions (such as Keogh, SEP and SIMPLE)
- Social security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents
- Bank account and routing numbers if you want to receive your refund via direct deposit or pay your taxes electronically
Second, make note of life changes in 2012. Events like marriage, divorce, college, switching jobs, having a child and moving can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars difference in your bottom line.
Next, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with key tax law changes. Income taxes are a substantial component of your personal finances, so it's in your best interest to have a basic understanding of changes from year to year. For a summary of major changes, read the first few pages of Publication 17 on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
When preparing and filing your return, be sure to:
- E-file. It's secure, convenient and you'll receive confirmation when the IRS has processed your return.
- For the fastest refund, e-file and choose direct deposit.
- Before filing, double check Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and spelling of names. Misspelled and wrongly typed numbers and names are among the most common mistakes made on returns.
- File and pay by the April 15, 2013 deadline to avoid IRS penalties and interest. If you file for a 6-month automatic extension, remember any balance is still due by April 15.
- Don't procrastinate. Rushing can lead to costly mistakes.
+ Top Story
Americans were born to make lemonade. If you have any doubt about the resiliency of U.S. workers, consider the many reports that indicate millions of Americans are turning life’s lemon of layoffs into an opportunity to work for themselves.
The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, in partnership with the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy will offer up to seven New Urban Mechanics Challenge Grants, totaling $25,000, to individuals or groups who create an innovative project that incorporates...
State Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Phila., recently said education and local taxpayers no longer can take the brunt of short-sighted budget policies emanating from Harrisburg. "We used to caution that the quality of education should not depend on a student's zip code," Evans said.
More than 60 percent of poll respondents in Georgia and South Carolina favor expanding their state’s Medicaid program to cover more people, while only a third approve of the health care reform law that would make it possible, a poll released Tuesday found.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE:PRU) last week revealed the results of its 2013-2014 “African American Financial Experience” study, which found that competing priorities and fewer investment products constrict African Americans’ ability to build a legacy of wealth.
UEF will provide financing and technical assistance to help small business owners create sustainable companies and vibrant communities nationwide across the markets it serves. Donald Bowen, has been appointed as President and CEO of the UEF, effective May 2.
New York’s attorney general on Monday accused Wells Fargo and Bank of America of violating the terms of last year’s national mortgage settlement by failing to process hundreds of refinancing requests promptly.
Christine Pacheco, director of career services at The Art Institute of Colorado, and Kristin Frank, director of career services at The Art Institute of Phoenix, share the top dos you should include to get noticed and get your foot in the door - and the don’ts that could get your resume tossed in the trash.