As you begin to contemplate filling out your taxes this year, your heart might be filled with dread as palpitations of fear or frustration begin to develop. From the thought of getting audited to the unpleasantness of finding out you owe more money, the all-too-familiar deadline of April 15 has a few too many connotations. Here are a few tips to help you survive filing your taxes this year.
1. Start Early
The biggest problem late filers make is to wait until the deadline is looming ahead in the next few days. Rushing to complete your taxes leads to costly mistakes, and in some cases, it leads to late filings. Start well ahead of the deadline, even if you only spend 10 minutes a day working on your income tax form.
2. Gather Your Paperwork
Before you even contemplate installing your tax software or tracking down an online tax form, make sure that you’ve gathered all of the necessary paperwork, from W-2s to interest statements to bill payments. Without this information, you won’t be able to complete your tax work anyway, so wouldn’t it be better to get it together first?
3. Use Electronic Filing
The obvious benefit of electronic filing is that you won’t need to take a trip to the post office to mail your taxes. Beyond that aspect, however, is the fact that the e-filing system identifies minor errors, notifies you, and gives you the option to make corrections prior to making your final submission. Plus, e-filing typically provides your refund much more quickly than paper filing does.
4. Check Your Entries
Even if you are using tax software, you should still check each of your entries to make sure that you have put in the correct information. Transposing numbers is one of the most common types of errors found on tax forms. It is also important to make sure that you have checked off all of the necessary boxes on your tax forms.
If you choose to have your refund deposited directly into a bank account, take the time to double check the account number you have entered. Check also to make sure that the routing number is correct. If you make a mistake and your money goes into someone else’s account, you won’t be happy with yourself. The government won’t be able to fix the problem either, so you will be out of luck.
5. Date and Sign Your Tax Forms
One of the downsides of filing electronically is that you must go through one additional step before you can file. You will need to obtain a Personal Identification Number or PIN and enter it in the appropriate spot in order to validate your return. If you are filing using a paper submission, make sure that you date and sign the form and that your spouse does so also, if applicable.
No one likes to owe the government money, but it doesn’t pay to put off filing your taxes just because you want to make the government wait. If you want to avoid the stress caused by having to complete your tax form, take the time to set up your working space, begin early, check your entries, and file electronically if at all possible. Oh yes, don’t forget to date and sign your tax form.
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