Filing Taxes for the First Time? Here Are Our Top Tips

(July 2024)

Filing Taxes for the First Time? Here Are Our Top Tips

In This Article

While filing taxes for the first time might appear intimidating, don’t worry. With a bit of preparation and the right guidance, you can transform it into a surprisingly manageable task. This article is a roadmap, offering invaluable tips to navigate the tax filing journey seamlessly. Whether it’s deciphering forms or optimizing your return, these insights will empower you. So, let’s dive in and ensure you not only conquer your first tax filing but also maximize the benefits coming your way.

To File Taxes For The First Time

  1. File Your Taxes to Get Benefits and Avoid Penalties
  2. Choose Your Filing Status Correctly
  3. Gather All the Forms and Documents You Need
  4. Pick a Tax Preparation Method That Suits You
  5. Follow The Steps to File Your Taxes Online or By Mail
  6. Track Your Refund or Pay Your Tax Bill on Time

Ready?

1. File Your Taxes to Get Benefits and Avoid Penalties

While filing taxes for the first time, ensure you file taxes to get benefits and avoid penalties. Here’s why: Filing your taxes could help you get a refund if you overpaid your taxes during the year. This means you can get some money back from the government that you can use for your savings, investments, or expenses.

Also, filing your taxes can help you qualify for tax credits and deductions that can lower your tax liability and save you money. For example, you may be eligible for the earned income tax credit, the child tax credit, the student loan interest deduction, or the tuition and fees deduction. That’s not all, filing your taxes can also help you avoid penalties and interest that may apply if you fail to file or pay your taxes on time. The IRS can impose various penalties for late filing, late payment, underpayment, or failure to report income. These penalties can add up quickly and increase your tax debt.

Therefore, it is advisable to file your taxes as soon as possible, take advantage of the benefits, and avoid the penalties.

2. Choose Your Filing Status Correctly

To take the first steps toward filing your taxes, choose your filing status correctly. Your filing status determines how much tax you owe, what deductions and credits you can claim, and what forms you need to file. Here’s how to choose your filing status:

  • If you are unmarried and have no dependents, you can file as single. This is the simplest and most common filing status for first-time filers.
  • If you are married and want to file a joint return with your spouse, you can file as married filing jointly. This can give you a lower tax rate and a higher standard deduction than filing separately.
  • If you are married and want to file a separate return from your spouse, you can file as married filing separately. This can be beneficial if you have different incomes, deductions, or liabilities than your spouse.
  • If you are unmarried and have a dependent child or relative, you can file as head of household. This can give you a lower tax rate and a higher standard deduction than filing as a single.
  • If you are a dependent of another taxpayer, such as your parent or guardian, you can file as a dependent. This means you cannot claim your personal exemption or standard deduction, but you may still be eligible for some credits or refunds.

To determine your filing status, you can use the [IRS Interactive Tax Assistant] or consult a tax professional. Choosing the right filing status can help you save money and avoid errors on your tax return.

3. Gather All the Forms And Documents You Need

To start the process of tax filing for you as a newcomer, gather all the forms and documents you need. These forms and documents can help you report your income, expenses, deductions, and credits on your tax return. You need to gather the following:

  • Form W-2, which shows how much you earned and how much tax your employer withheld from your wages.
  • Form 1099, which shows how much you received from other sources of income, such as interest, dividends, royalties, or self-employment.
  • Form 1040, is the main form that you use to file your federal income tax return. You can choose from three versions of this form: 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR, depending on your age, income, and residency status.
  • Receipts for deductions, which are the records that show how much you spent on certain expenses that can reduce your taxable income, such as medical bills, mortgage interest, charitable donations, or education costs.
  • Other forms and documents, which may vary depending on your situation, such as Form 8962 for health insurance premium tax credit, Form 8863 for education credits, or Form 2555 for foreign earned income exclusion.

4. Pick a Tax Preparation Method That Suits You

To file taxes for the first time, pick a tax preparation method that suits you. There are different ways to prepare and file your tax return, depending on your preferences, budget, and the complexity of your tax situation. Here are some common tax preparation methods you can choose from:

  • Tax preparation software: This is a convenient and affordable option that guides you through the process of filling out your tax forms and submitting them electronically. You can use free or paid software, depending on your income and eligibility. Some examples of tax preparation software are TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct.
  • Tax preparer: This is a professional who can help you with your tax return, especially if you have a complicated tax situation or need advice. You can find a qualified tax preparer by checking their credentials, experience, and reputation. Some types of tax preparers are certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, and attorneys.
  • Paper forms: This is the traditional way of preparing your tax return by filling out the paper forms and mailing them to the IRS. You can get the forms from the IRS website, a local IRS office, or a library. This method may take longer and require more accuracy than using software or a preparer.

The best tax preparation method for you depends on your personal preference, comfort level, and budget. You should weigh the pros and cons of each method and choose the one that works best for you.

5. Follow The Steps to File Your Taxes Online or By Mail

To commence the process of filing taxes as a first-timer, you need to follow these steps:

  • Collect and sort your tax records, such as your income statements, expense receipts, and filing status.
  • Choose your preferred method of filing your taxes, either using tax preparation software, hiring a tax preparer, or filling out paper forms.
  • Decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your return, depending on which option lowers your tax liability more.
  • Submit your return by the deadline, which is April 15, 2024, and wait for your refund or pay your balance due.
  • Contact the IRS for help if you have any questions or problems with your tax return.

These steps can help you file your taxes correctly and easily for the first time. You can find more details and resources about each step in the previous message.

6. Track Your Refund or Pay Your Tax Bill on Time

To file taxes for the first time, track your refund or pay your tax bill on time. Here are some important points to remember:

  • Track your refund: You can check the status of your tax refund online using the Where’s My Refund? the tool on the IRS website or the IRS2Go app on your mobile device. You will need your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. You can start checking your refund status within 24 hours after the IRS receives your e-filed return, or four weeks after mailing a paper return. The IRS issues most refunds in less than 21 days, but some may take longer.
  • Pay your tax bill: If you owe taxes to the IRS, you should pay them by the filing deadline, which is April 15, 2024, to avoid penalties and interest. You can pay your taxes online using Direct Pay, which allows you to securely pay your taxes from your checking or savings account. You can also pay by debit or credit card, electronic funds withdrawal, check, money order, or cash. If you can’t pay your taxes in full, you may qualify for a payment plan or an offer in compromise.

Recap

To file taxes for the first time, file your taxes to get benefits. Choose your filing status correctly and gather all the forms and documents you need. Then pick a tax preparation method that suits you and follow the steps to file your taxes online or by mail. Track your refund or pay your tax bill on time.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. . For comprehensive tax, legal or financial advice, always contact a qualified professional in your area. S’witty Kiwi assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.

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