April 15 is just around the corner, and it's a good bet that a lot of folks are waiting until the last minute!
Filing taxes can be confusing. Here's the Top Ten tips provided by the IRS to make things easier and to ensure you get your return as fast as possible:
- Gather your records. Collect all tax records you need to file your taxes. This includes receipts, canceled checks and records that support income, deductions or tax credits that you claim on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.
- Report all your income. You will need to report your income from all of your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and Form 1099 income statements when you file your tax return.
- Get answers. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on the IRS website to get answers to many of your questions about tax credits, deductions and many more topics.
- Use Free File. You can prepare and e-file a tax return for free using IRS Free File, available exclusively on IRS.gov. If your income was $58,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income was higher, or if you're comfortable doing your own tax return, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Visit IRS.gov/freefile to check your options.
- Try IRS e-file. Electronic filing is the best way to file a tax return. It's accurate, safe and easy. Last year, more than 122 million taxpayers used IRS e-file. If you owe taxes, you have the option to file early and pay by April 15.
- Weigh your filing options. You have several options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer. You may be eligible for free, face-to-face help at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly site. Weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.
- Use direct deposit. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way to get your tax refund.
- Visit the IRS website 24/7. IRS.gov is a great place to get everything you need to file your tax return. Visit '1040 Central' for online tools, filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions and IRS forms and publications. Get them all anytime, day or night.
- Check out number 17. IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, is a complete tax resource. It contains helpful information such as whether you need to file a tax return and how to choose your filing status.
- Review your return. Mistakes slow down the receipt of your tax refund. Be sure to check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return, as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help. Start with IRS.gov.
And while we're at it, let's take a look at the IRS' list of the most common mistakespeople make on their taxes, so we won't make them!
- Wrong or missing Social Security numbers. Be sure you enter all SSNs on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
- Wrong names. Be sure you spell the names of everyone on your tax return exactly as they are on their Social Security cards.
- Filing status errors. Some people use the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help you choose the right one. Tax software helps e-filers choose.
- Math mistakes. Double-check your math. For example, be careful when you add or subtract or figure items on a form or worksheet. Tax preparation software does all the math for e-filers.
- Errors in figuring credits or deductions. Many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the standard deduction. If you're not e-filing, follow the instructions carefully when figuring credits and deductions. For example, if you're age 65 or older or blind, be sure you claim the correct, higher standard deduction.
- Wrong bank account numbers. You should choose to get your refund by direct deposit. But it's important that you use the right bank and account numbers on your return. The fastest and safest way to get a tax refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit.
- Forms not signed or dated. An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check – it's not valid. Remember that both spouses must sign a joint return.
- Electronic filing PIN errors. When you e-file, you sign your return electronically with a Personal Identification Number. If you know last year's e-file PIN, you can use that. If not, you'll need to enter the Adjusted Gross Income from your originally-filed 2012 federal tax return. Don't use the AGI amount from an amended 2012 return or a 2012 return that the IRS corrected.