(BPT) - Unless you majored in accounting, the thought of filing your own income tax return may evoke feelings similar to your first job interview. Though understandable, this is an unfounded fear, given the simple taxes most individuals have in their early to mid-20s and the easy digital tax programs available.
“All you need to file your own tax return is a little self-confidence, the desire to get your maximum refund, and a computer or mobile device," says TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. “You're well qualified to do your taxes because you're the expert of your finances."
Follow these tips to successfully file your taxes for the first time and every year after that.
Waiting until the last minute causes undue stress, and rushing increases the potential for typos and overlooked information. While you can do your taxes in one fell swoop, it's unnecessary. Online tax programs save as you go, so you can stop and finish at your leisure. You may reap benefits from starting early because many tax programs point out potential savings requiring action before December 31 or April 15.
Compare tax products before using them.
Read expert and user reviews. Look at the situations and tax forms each includes, as some require you to upgrade for certain forms. If you have to file a state return, compare prices. Using a mobile filing app? Choose one that also provides access to your data on a browser for convenience and peace of mind in case you lose your smartphone or tablet.
Gather all forms and documents.
Before starting your return, compile all tax forms and documents, including:
- Form W-2 from your employer (Received by January 31)
- Form 1099 if you're self-employed or a contractor
- Form 1098-E from your lender if you've paid student loan interest (Even if you don't receive this form, you can still deduct interest paid.)
- Form 1098-T for tuition paid and scholarships or grants received
- Statements for retirement savings accounts
- Receipts for charitable donations
After filing, keep these papers or make electronic copies to save with a copy of your return.