Tax season is the time we all dread. There is so much stress surrounding it: wondering if you’ve got all the proper documentation, navigating your way through W-2’s, hoping you don’t get arrested for accidental, incorrect information (admit it, we’re all afraid of that). Well, you don’t have to worry any longer.
If you’ve been unsure of quite how to file your taxes, looking to ease the process, wonder whether you should hire a professional or do it yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll give you five of the most reliable ways you can iron out the stress of filing taxes.
1. Collect All the Necessary Documentation Beforehand
I know, this seems a bit too obvious to say, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to begin the process of filing your taxes and not have in hand all the proper documentation. Of course, you will need to have your W-2 forms – that is the main piece of paperwork you’re going to need, but not the only. Additional documentation will vary based on whether you own any property or other assets, if you are an employee of your workplace vs. the owner, whether you are a college student or not, and the list goes on.
A checklist of the documentation you will need to file your taxes should cover the following (This is not an exhaustive list, only an example of the most common necessities):
- Social Security information
- W-2 Form
- 1099 Form (federal loans or unemployment benefits, for example)
- Financial documentation regarding assets such as businesses or other property
- Receipts for work-related purchases
To help you determine what documentation is needed and what is not, just remember that you need to have paperwork documenting every wage- and income-related transaction in the year prior.
2. Do Not Wait Until the Deadline
The stress of filing taxes may tempt you to hold off until the last minute. However, this is the opposite of what you want to do! Giving yourself ample time to complete your filing not only gives you time to take breaks when you are confused or stressed, but it also provides a buffer for seeking out any further documentation that may be missing.
3. Review Last Year’s Tax Return
If you have been fortunate to remain in the same job that you were in the year prior, make sure to briefly look over the previous year’s tax return. Most of the information required will be the same, and it will be a good refresher of how to complete the process.
4. Use Tax Filing Software
Most people in a position to be required to file taxes have heard of tax-filing software such as TurboTax or H&R Block. Although these can be considered partially DIY tax options, they do provide a helpful service that not only speeds up the process of filing taxes but makes it significantly simpler as well. The programs will prompt you to determine the exact types of documentation needed and give you an estimate of your refund each step of the way.
5. Hire a Professional
If this is all just a bit overwhelming to you, do not worry. That is understandable, and many people feel that way, so you are not alone! Even with thorough preparation, it is simply not everyone’s cup o’ tea to do their taxes themselves. This is why professional tax preparers exist! You can easily do a quick search online for tax filing software or individuals near you.
Whatever you choose, make sure to select the option that is most applicable to your work and lifestyle. Good luck and happy filing!