5 Tips to help novice taxpayers through the filing process

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By: Phil Bradford
on 17th Mar,2016

If you are a newbie taxpayer, then check out these tips for a hassle-free filing process.

Even the experienced taxpayers get intimidated when they file taxes. So, how can you expect a newbie taxpayer to file taxes properly? Filing an income tax return is a rock-hard job. You may get heavily penalized if you file taxes incorrectly. So, calculate every step of yours before filing an income tax return.

Read more: Guide to File Unfiled Taxes

Are you a first-time taxpayer?
Check out these 5 tips to help you through the filing process.

1. Arrange the documents

All that the IRS wants is proper documentation. Before filing taxes, make sure your documents are up-to-date and organized. You can also use a checklist if needed. To make your task easier, consider using TaxACT software, which provides a step-by-step guidance. Keep all your tax and income related information and documentations together for easy access.

Tax filing gets over in the middle of April. But remember, you have to file taxes every year. To make your tax season painless and simple stay organized and plan ahead for the next year’s tax filing season. Keep all your documents, deductions, and credits handy for the next year. Make a note of any major lifestyle changes like getting married, buying a house, or having a baby that will affect your tax filing next year.

2. Determine whether or not you need to file

Before the filing of federal income tax return, you must consider three things, i.e., filing status, gross income, and age. The table below shows you the minimum income level for the various filing statuses:

Filing Status Age Minimum W-2 Income Requirement Minimum Self-Employment Income Requirement
Single Under 65 $10,300 $400
65 or older $11,850 $400
Head of Household Under 65 $13,250 $400
65 or older $14,800 $400
Married Filing Jointly Under 65 (both spouses) $20,600 $400
65 or older (one spouse) $21,850 $400
65 or older (both spouses) $23,100 $400
Married Filing Separately Any age $400 $400
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Children Under 65 $16,600 $400
65 or older $17,850 $400

So, what if you are not required to file an income tax return? You should file income tax returns to take advantage of the tax credits, which you are eligible for, such as:

  • Earned income credit
  • Additional child tax credit
  • American opportunity credit
  • Credit for federal tax on fuels
  • Refundable credit for prior year minimum tax
  • Health coverage tax credit

3. Decide how to file

How will you file your income tax return? Will you take a professional help or use a tax software to complete your filing process? Even if your tax return may look simple and uncomplicated, it’s always better to visit a tax professional for help. Tax con artists often set inexperienced and first-time taxpayers as their targets. If the cost is bothering you, then you can file through the Free File Program.

Read more: 4 Income tax secrets which CPAs use while filing their returns

4. Take advantage of deductions and credits

New taxpayers should not miss out on common deductions and credits like:

  • State and local taxes.
  • Charitable contributions paid through payroll deductions.
  • Child and dependent care credit.
  • Job search expenses.
  • Earned income tax credit.

Read more: List of most-ignored tax breaks you should use

5. File your return on time

You need to be very careful when you file taxes as they’re complicated and knotty. You might get intimidated by the thought of filing taxes. But, you should prepare yourself to deal with the situation. Don’t let your fear of taxes ignore the important thing, i.e., ‘file on time.’ Delay in filing your income tax return will only put you in bad circumstances and nothing else.

Read more: The most lucrative tax deductions you can avail being an US citizen

# Please note

There are many details associated with the filing process. A tax professional will guide and help you with the details, and the filing process. Even if you have many years of experience, you should always get professional help before filing income tax returns.

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