Please note the following tax due dates on your calendar, and come back often to keep up with the changes.
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Free 2018 Tax Help
Doing your taxes for the first time can be intimidating. Typical fears of using the wrong form or of getting audited surround people’s thoughts of tax season, forcing “Do Taxes” to the bottom of every to-do list.
Luckily, most first-time tax filers have a relatively simple job ahead of them! The tax form that many first-time filers use even says it in the name: 1040EZ! If you have some basic guidelines and understanding of what you’re doing, tax season will be as EZ as pie.
Here is a guide for first-time filers to make sure your first tax season is just that!
Figure out if you need to file
Just because you receive an income doesn’t necessarily mean you have to file a tax return. There are many factors that go into it, such as where your income comes from, your age, your filing status and how much you earned. You can easily find out if you need to file by taking the IRS online questionnaire! The questionnaire takes less than 20 minutes and will tell you whether or not you need to file.
If you have withheld any taxes from your paychecks, it is wise to file anyway, even if you don’t meet many of the typical criteria to file.
Figure out how many returns you need to file
If the state you live in charges a state income tax, you will need to file a separate state tax return along with your federal return. You will want to contact your state’s department of taxation if you are filing by mail to get the state forms and filing guidelines.
Figure out if you should file electronically or by mail
The IRS and many states offer free electronic filing for qualifying tax payers. Filing electronically is faster and easier than doing your taxes by hand and mailing them and may save you a lot of time if you qualify.
You may qualify for free assistance with your tax return if you are elderly, disabled, make less than $54,000 per year or have limited English skills.
Compile your tax documents
Round all of your tax documents into one folder. Anything that pertains to your income or expenses is probably a good idea to put into that folder. This includes things like 1099s, tax statements from investments, W-2s, student loan interest statements, mortgage interest documents, medical savings account contributions and moving expenses.
Employers should have sent out W-2s for 2018 earnings by January 31, 2019.
Don’t wait until April
You can file your taxes as soon as you have compiled all of your necessary documents. The IRS started accepting tax returns on January 28, 2019, so you can file already if you have all of your documents prepared!
Get started as soon as you can, so that you are not scrambling to obtain forms or ask questions in April!
Know the deadline
The last day to file your taxes for the 2018 tax year is Monday, April 15!
File even if you owe and cannot pay
Failing to file a tax return will incur penalties, and so will failure to pay taxes owed. Even if you cannot pay right now, it is important to file so that you do not incur the penalties from failing to file a return! Keep in mind that you are able to set up an installment plan with the IRS in order to pay over time.
Review your withholdings yearly
Receiving a hefty tax refund may seem good, but this can be deceiving. A bigger return means that you are receiving your own money that the IRS has held from you…money that has gained no interest while they have held it. In order to make sure you are able to save and gain interest on your money, you need to review your income withholdings every year to make sure you are getting as close as possible to no return after filing your taxes.
Be wary of scams
Every year during tax season, tax return scams run amok. Scams can involve phone calls claiming to be the IRS, telling you that you owe back taxes or something of the sort. One way to tell if this is real or not is for you to know that the IRS will never contact you by phone. If you are contacted by the IRS via mail or email, contact the IRS directly using information from their website, not from any of the information from any forms that you receive.
The IRS will have every form of contact that you need on their website, so always go to the source.
Don’t miss a step
Those filing electronically will be prompted to fill in every necessary box or blank on their tax forms. However, if you are filing by mail, it is easy to miss little steps that are necessary for your return. Remember to always sign and date your returns and double check that you have filled out the form totally and correctly. Missing a step can cause your return to be rejected, delaying your refund or worse, rendering it late and resulting in a penalty.
Brandt Tax and Associates is the smart way to receive easy and affordable tax help online, especially if you do not qualify to receive free electronic filing or assistance. We provide services ranging from in-person assistance to quick online responses that can help you get your taxes done quickly and efficiently. In order to avoid missing crucial deductions or exclusions, reach out to us today!