Sunday, 21 Apr 2024

A Beginner’s Guide to Filing Your First Return 

Filing your first tax return may be scary, but it does not have to be. This article will help you through the process, from gathering your paperwork to selecting a filing option. For more information, you can consult a tax preparation expert. 

Keep an eye on your income. 

If you earn more than a specific amount during the year, you must file a tax return. If you are working, check your pay stub for “year to date” income—and if you work for many employers, tally up your earnings from each. Remember to add revenue from other sources, such as rental property, sales, investments, or interest. 

Gather your documents 

The first step is to gather all of the paperwork required to file your return. These usually include:

  • W-2 forms from your employer(s)
  • 1099 forms for any other income you received, such as interest or self-employment income
  • Proof of any deductions or credits you plan to claim, such as receipts for charitable donations or education expenses

Choose a filing method. 

There are three primary methods to submit taxes:

  • Electronically 

This is the quickest and simplest way to file, and it tends to be the most secure. You may file online for free by visiting the IRS website or downloading a free tax filing software package.

  • By mail 

You can send your paper return to the IRS. This approach is slower and more prone to mistakes.

  • With a tax professional 

If your tax situation is complex, you may consider hiring a tax expert to assist you in filing your return.

Important deadlines 

The deadline for filing your federal income tax return is normally April 15th of the following year. However, there are a few outliers. For example, if your state has a separate tax deadline, you may have additional time to file your federal return.

When your tax paperwork comes in January or February, you have around two months to prepare your tax return by the normal due date of April 15. Plan your return date, and make sure it is early enough that you have time to schedule another session or two if you need to look for more papers or seek assistance.

In general, experts advise filing tax returns sooner rather than later. The earlier you file, the higher your chances of preventing tax-related identity theft, which is becoming increasingly common. Furthermore, if you are entitled to a refund, you will receive it sooner. 

What should you do if you can not afford to pay? 

If you cannot afford to pay your taxes in full, you have a few alternatives. You can request an extension, which will provide you extra time to file your return without penalty. You can also create a payment plan with the IRS.