DIY Tips for Filing Your Own Taxes

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If you’re among the many who plan to file taxes on their own, good for you! It can seem like an arduous task if you don’t know what you’re doing, but that isn’t necessarily cause for hiring a professional. Looking up the steps is easy enough, and with all the various kinds of tax software available today, there’s almost no reason to notbeing filing your own taxes (unless you own a business or you have complications that aren’t accounted for within the software). We’ve gathered up some of the more helpful tips to get you started with filing on your own.

Pick the Right Software

As we already mentioned, there are many options on the market for DIY tax software to help you file. You’ll want to assess the pros and cons of the big players before picking which one to use. The most widely used options are TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block, Jackson Hewiit and TaxSlayer. Only you know your exact situation and can pick the best software, but each of these options has a simple, free version, and then paid versions, depending on the complexity of your returns. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to pick an option that provides a good deal of support, and will walk you through the process in very simple terms. If you’re self-employed or have dependents or other aspects of your filing that are beyond the simplest return, you’ll want a paid version of the software that has a little more information and horsepower.

Collect All Your Paperwork

This is key, because you don’t want to get knee-deep into filing and realize you’re either missing a crucial piece of information or, worse yet, saw a necessary document that disappeared into the void. During tax season, you’ll want to keep a close watch on your email and your postal mail, so you know where your various forms are. Once you get them, open or print them, and put them all in one folder in a safe place. If you don’t already keep track of all that important information – W2s and W9s, anything regarding investments or owned property and health insurance statements – it might be worth your time and effort to start up a filing system specifically so you have all your affairs in order, come each tax season – or, come an audit from the IRS.

Find the Time

For all the preparation you do, you still do have to actually sit down and do the work of filing your taxes. If you’ve picked good software and have all your paperwork in order, it really shouldn’t take you all that much time. But, it is definitely best to make the time and to do it all in one go (trust us, your sanity will thank you in the long run). If you specifically schedule out which day you’ll file your taxes, you give yourself a set amount of time to collect your paperwork, to pick your software and, ideally, you’ll have enough time between that day and the last day to file to take care of any issues that may arise before you officially run out of time.

Check, Double-Check and Triple-Check

Yes, we just mentioned filing with enough time to deal with any issues that may arise. But, that is absolutely something you would want to avoid – and something you can avoid if you spend the time carefully checking all of your inputted information. These things may sound like they go without saying, but you never know, so the biggest thing to check first is that your name, your date of birth and your Social Security Number are correct (not only on the papers you’ll file, but also on all of the paperwork you’ve received). Any discrepancies or errors could result in your tax return not being filed properly and that, we assure you, is the last thing you want. Yes, it’s a time-consuming endeavor just to get through the first round of inputting your information, but you will be more than grateful that you did if you happen to catch that you mistyped your last name or forgot a digit in your Social Security Number. Taking the effort to thoroughly confirm everything you have put into the software is correct will give you the peace of mind you need to formally file and to let yourself be completely done with filing your taxes.