3 Simple Ways to Do Your Own Taxes

Joseph Meyer
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Guide to Doing Your Own Taxes

Let me first start off by saying, I don’t feel like a qualified person to talk about tax law. As a matter of fact, I’ve never really been able to understand much about the tax system. In fact, the first year I filed my own taxes I handed them to my husband and asked him to finalize it, because the whole thing was giving me a headache.

Taxes, by their nature, can be confusing and stressful. So, I’m thankful that there is software that helps simplify them! This article is not about tax law, but rather how you can do your own taxes for free.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do my own taxes successfully:

{1}. Gather all your information. This includes your W-2, 1099, and your own bank statements. This is how you can prove income.
{2}. Download a tax software such as Turbo Tax. Most of them offer free software you can download to your personal computer, and then prepare and file your taxes yourself. The software will walk you through the process if it is your first time filing.
{3}. Double check that you are entering the right information. Make sure your Social Security Numbers and your name are correct. Search for any mistakes. There may be a button you can press to help you find these mistakes.

How to Do Your Taxes Yourself

If your accountant charges by the hour, it may seem like there is little reason to want to do your taxes yourself. However, there are some very compelling reasons to do your taxes yourself.

You can save money by doing your own taxes. You may pay much less for a major software tax preparation package for your business than you will pay as a business owner for your accountant to do a simple return. You can also save time. By doing your taxes yourself, you can do them quickly and easily and have better control over accuracy. If you do your taxes on your own, you can see where you might be able to save money, and you can take advantage of that.

Manual Filing vs Tax Software

So you’re thinking of doing your own taxes this year. You’ve either been told to do it yourself or seen the amount of tax professionals are charging for just a few hours worth of work. If you decide to do your own taxes, you can save hundreds of dollars and possibly make the process easier and faster than you might think.

What You’ll Need

Computers are capable of doing an incredible number of tasks faster and more accurately than humans. Unfortunately, when it comes to your taxes, it is difficult to find a professional that is interested in allocating time to do your taxes for you. That’s where your computer comes in handy.

Computers are designed to crunch numbers and do complex math. They’re computers! They were created to do things that humans just can’t do. Entering your tax information into the computer, or having a tax-preparation website enter it for you, will allow the computer to quickly and accurately calculate how much you owe in taxes.

You will likely need the following supplies to file your own taxes at home.

Determine Your Filing Status

Determine your filing status. If you were married on the last day of the tax year, you will probably want to file a joint return. This is true even if you are separated or you filed separately on your tax return. It is also generally true if you lived apart from your spouse during the last six months of the year and you both have separate incomes.

Now that you have determined your filing status, you need to figure out if you are eligible to file an extension or if you have to file your federal tax return by the April 10 deadline. If you are eligible, you can e-file your tax return extension for free using e-file.irs.gov. You will need to compute your income and withholdings for the extension period, however, so that you can properly adjust your tax return forms once you file.

Some taxpayers who receive lots of income during the year that they do not anticipate at the beginning of the year should also consider getting a filing extension. They have different filing deadlines and are required to file their returns before April 15 of the year following the year they earned the income. They cannot e-file their extensions and should file Form 4868 using Form 1040 or Form 1040A. They will also need to pay their tax bill by April 15, even if they do not yet have their total income for the year.

Have Your Documentation in Order

I’ll admit that doing your own taxes can’t get any easier than doing them with online software (and that’s what I do). You can do 1040EZ, 1040A or 1040 forms from the comfort of your home, or even your smartphone, and some online software offers a free version.

But it’s always a good idea to be prepared well in advance, so that you have all of your documentation at your fingertips. Keep all your W-2’s, 1099’s, 1098’s, and account statements in one place. Also, you should have your latest income from each individual source.

Find the Right Tax Filing Software

What Tax Filing Software Should I Choose?

There are dozens of tax filing options available, most of which are designed for the DIY tax filer. However, doing your own taxes can be complicated, and depending on your individual circumstances, it may make sense to seek professional help. You might even be able to take advantage of the free tax software that some companies are offering to their employees.

But, if you want to do your own taxes, there are lots of options available. Most companies offer free federal tax filing, but not all offer state tax filing. Some also offer additional tools like tax calculators, tax information, tax guides, and IRS forms finders.

Here are some of the top online tax filing software options available:

  • TurboTax Free E-File
  • H&R Block Free File
  • TaxAct Free File
  • TaxSlayer Free
  • eSmart Tax Free
  • FreeTaxUSA Free

Best Tax Software for Filing Your Taxes

A lot of people are intimidated by the prospect of doing their own taxes. We’re going to take a look at 3 simple ways you can do your own taxes.

When it comes to filing your tax returns, you have two choices: do it yourself or have someone else do it for you. If you choose to do your own taxes, you should follow these steps to make sure your taxes are not only filed correctly but also easy to read.

The first thing you should do is have your W-2 form (a summary of your income from your employer) and 1099-MISC forms (if you’ve received any money from selling items online, fees for freelance work or other income not related to your job) handy along with a calculator or tax calculator.

Next, to start filing your taxes, you should gather the necessary forms for you to complete your taxes. If you are unsure about the forms you should be filling out, you can look at your last tax return or review your last paycheck stub. These forms can be anything from a W-2 to a 1099-INT to a 1098. Keep in mind that there are always new laws when it comes to taxes, so you may need additional forms to file with your taxes this year.

Turbotax

H&R Block

When you want to file your taxes, you always want to find a service with technology on your side. While there are hundreds of tax filing companies to choose from, regardless of your tax circumstance, one of the best in the business is H&R Block. H&R Block has made it easy to file your taxes, with over 10,000 locations around the country. Moreover, they have advanced in technology with direct access to customer service, live chat and a mobile app. The mobile app helps you keep up with what’s going on with your taxes 24/7. If you need to get your taxes filed as soon as possible, and are looking for customer service and knowledgeable specialists, look no further.

Right now, patrons can register for H&R Block products on their website for a much lower price than they’d pay in the store for a higher level of service.

TaxAct

Who Should Do Their Own Taxes?

Tax season has begun, and if you’re planning to do your own taxes this year, the first thing that probably popped into your head was “Will I be penalized?” The answer is if you followed the rules, you will likely be “penalized” with some extra money in your pocket come tax time.

“Penalties” is a very broad term. Taxes are so incredibly complicated that in most cases, you can find a loophole in the law that if you push your case harder than the IRS person being taxed, the IRS may just let it slide.

You fill out forms, you submit your documentation, and they review it. If there are discrepancies, you must pay the tax.

If you followed the rules or the law, you should not be penalized, but it should not be considered a license to bend the rules. As a tax professional knows, a busy person who gets caught up in their life and puts things off, will always find themselves being penalized.

The government can assess a late fee as the penalty, which is, they can take from a return a certain amount based on percentages that you wish the IRS back.

Here are few simple ways to do your taxes yourself.

In Conclusion

The process of doing your own taxes is not as difficult as most people make it. All you have to do is to gather all the required documents, and then to follow simple instructions.

The tax returns that you file at the end of the year are crucial because they determine how much money you will get back from the government and how much you will have to borrow, meaning that every little detail matters. It’s a good idea to understand how income taxes are calculated and what information you should be compiling.

In the next chapter, we will show you how to work out your refunds as well as how to find the right tax deductions.