If you still haven’t filed your taxes, you’re not alone. Each year, millions of Americans hold off on filing until the very last minute. This year, Tax Day is extended to July 15 from the usual mid-April deadline, so now is the time to figure out what you need to do. If you have yet to file, or if you’ve never done your taxes before, here are Stephanie Ruhle’s tips to get them done the right way.
There are a few different ways to file your taxes; it’s not a one-size-fits-all program. If you don’t have access to the internet (or perhaps are helping a loved one who doesn’t), you can always file your taxes on paper. It can be a little tricky, though; you won’t have any step-by-step tips popping up the way you would on a screen. But this method is totally free, and with a little bit of time and careful proofreading, it can be done well.
You can also use a software program. Popular options include TurboTax, Tax Slayer, and H&R Block. All of these companies offer both premium and free versions of their programs. You can also go to your state’s website for access to their recommended e-file option.
If you can’t swing a paid option, which can range from $30 to about $130, you can use the IRS’s Free File program. Almost three-quarters of taxpayers are eligible to use it — anyone with a gross adjusted income of $69,000 or less can file for free. If you aren’t sure how to calculate that income, you can go to irs.gov and check your eligibility.
Lastly, you can consult a professional tax preparer or accountant to help you as well. If you can afford it and are unsure of how to file on your own, a tax pro can help you avoid mistakes and maximize your refund. Those services can range upwards of $200 depending on your needs. On Tax Day, it may be too late to tap someone to help you file on time. You’ll need to file a deadline extension on or before July 15 if you need some extra time to submit your paperwork.
Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to file your taxes, you need to have your documents and materials at the ready. The most important document is your W-2 or 1099 form; the type of form you’ll need depends on the nature of your employment.
W-2 forms come from a full- or part-time employer, but if you are a freelancer or contract worker, you’ll likely get a 1099 from each job you worked over $600. No matter what forms you have, you’ll need your Social Security number handy as well.
Remember, filing digitally and setting up a direct deposit will help expedite your refund, if you’re getting one, compared to filing on paper. Once you’ve hit submit, track your filing with the IRS’s “Where’s my Refund?” tool, which is updated daily.
Filing your taxes can be a chore, but there’s no reason you can’t make it fun. Order your favorite takeout, put on some good music and file away. You’re just a few hours away from the next step to getting your refund.