Steps to prepare
If you haven’t put that much thought into your taxes, you should probably get your gears greased up and ready to rumble because they’re due on April 18th, 2017! Although this is less than a week away, a lot can happen week to week, and the preparation you need before tackling your taxes takes some time and effort!
As a reminder, you will probably be filing 2 returns, Federal and State, unless you live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming in which case there is no state income tax. Lucky you! On the flip side, if you’re working in a city where local income tax is charged, you might have 3 returns (New York City, Philadelphia, Portland and Detroit are good examples).
Before you get ready to crunch some numbers, you should have had the opportunity to have updated your mailing address with your employer and for any financial institutions for them to send you all your needed forms. If your employer has an online portal, you could pull the docs online, as well.
What forms do I need?
W-2 from your employer (you can talk to your HR representative to receive your W20
Form 1040 / 1040ez
Sent by the IRS by mail.
1098-T for tuition paid (or receipts/canceled checks for tuition paid for post-high school) - sent by your financial aid provider
1098-E for student loan interest paid (or loan statements for student loans)
This will be sent to you if you have an accurate mailing address or you can look up your Federal Student Loan Interest paid online!
1099-INT for any interest you may have received from your bank
Bank Account Information - routing number, account number, unless you can check this information online.
- Any miscellaneous earnings or funds received (including scholarships)
Donations you made to qualifying charities
In addition to forms sent by your employer and banks, here are some deductions and credits to consider:
- Standard deduction – A set amount of money that the federal government gives you if you meet certain conditions. It differs according to marital status. Take a look at the table below for 2016’s standard deductions per the IRS website.
Itemized deductions – There are six main categories of expenses that can be deducted:
Medical and Dental
Itemized deductions reduce the amount of tax you owe and should be used when they total more than your standard deduction. If you want to itemize your deductions you have to file with a 1040, not 1040ez. You should only file itemized deductions if together they are more than the standard deductions. For most of us, the standard deduction will always be more unless you own a house and can deduct property taxes, but if you’re unsure of the best method to take with deductions, consult with a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
|Filing Status||Standard Deduction for 2016 per IRS.gov|
|Married Filing Jointly||$12,600|
|Married Filing Separately||$6,300|
|Head of Household||$9,300|
Ready to begin?
Okay, now that was a lot of information! How are you feeling about everything? If you have all those forms together, you are ready to go and hopefully getting closer to receiving your tax return! To file your taxes, you can use an online source or hire an accountant. Both are listed below:
- Online / Tax Software
Tax Software - TurboTax, H&R Block, TaxAct and more
File Free Program - If you make less than $64,000, you have access to free tax prep software through the IRS (https://www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free)
- Licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to act as your tax professional
Don’t forget that your tax return is your responsibility, even if you use a third party or tax software
I found TurboTax worked the easiest for my case because it laid out everything numerically and through a step-by-step process, but many other sites do an incredible job in lining up everything for a successful tax filing -- be sure to do your research to figure out the best resource for you.
Let us know how your tax season is going and if you have questions, we are working hard on filming and editing our series on taxes to help! Be sure to subscribe to GenW so you’ll be the first to know when helpful blogs and videos are posted!