Published September 7th, 2023
Filing your taxes for the first time can feel like a daunting task. The forms, the terminology, the fear of making a mistake - it can all seem overwhelming. But don't worry! This guide is designed to help you navigate your first time filing taxes with ease.
1. Understand Your Filing Status
Your tax filing status affects how much tax you owe. There are five statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child1. Understanding your status is the first step in filing your taxes.
2. Gather Your Documents
You will need certain documents to file your taxes, including W-2s from your employer(s), 1099 forms if you've done any freelance work, and receipts for deductible expenses. Having these at hand will make the process easier.
3. Know Your Deductions and Credits
Tax deductions and credits can greatly reduce your tax bill. Common deductions include student loan interest, medical expenses, and state and local taxes paid. Credits may include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit2.
4. Choose How You'll File
There are several ways you can file your taxes: by mail, through an online tax preparation service, or with the help of a tax professional. Each method has its pros and cons, so choose the one that best fits your situation.
5. Don't Miss the Deadline
In the U.S., Tax Day typically falls on April 15. However, if that date lands on a weekend or holiday, the deadline may be extended3. Make sure to submit your tax return by the deadline to avoid penalties.
6. Ask For Help If Needed
If you're unsure about something, don't hesitate to ask for help. The IRS provides helpful resources on their website, and tax professionals can provide valuable guidance.
In conclusion, while filing taxes for the first time might seem intimidating, it's a manageable task once you understand the process and requirements. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and take your time to get things right.