Every April, tax time rolls around in the United States. Chances are, you fall into the majority (56%) of Americans who dislike or hate doing their taxes. Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, if you’re a working adult, you have to file a tax return every year.
If you’ve just recently entered the workforce, or you’re taking on the task of doing your taxes yourself, it can all be confusing at first. Get answers to some of the most commonly asked tax questions below, and take care to ensure that your tax return doesn’t contain any errors. Making a mistake on your taxes could mean missing out on money that you’re legally entitled to!
The top 5 tax questions
What documents do I need?
The most basic documents you need to file your taxes are the W-2 and the 1099-INT. Your employer will give you your W-2. This contains your income information along with the taxes you have already paid.
You will receive a 1099-INT from your bank. These forms detail how much interest you’ve earned on investments.
You’ll also need Social Security numbers for yourself and any dependents. If you’ve made any charitable contributions, have those receipts on hand as well.
Do I have to file if I didn’t make much?
The IRS requires you to file if you make $10,000 ($20,000 for married couples) in a year. If you made less than that, you don’t have to file.
But, tax experts recommend filing anyway. You may be still be eligible for a refund! Even if you just get a small refund back, that’s money that you are entitled to.
Who can I claim as a dependent?
Dependents reduce your tax liability, which is always a nice plus. Of course, you can claim your children as dependents.
You may also be able to claim your spouse, your aging parents, or even other relatives. There are requirements they’ll have to meet, but the more dependents you can legally claim, the more money you’ll save.
When can I file?
Most years, you can file your taxes as early as the end of January. For 2018, the IRS opened on January 29.
Of course, most folks are more interested in how late they can file, since it can take time to get everything ready — especially if you owe the IRS money. This year, the deadline is April 17. The usual date is the 15th, unless it falls on a weekend.
If you can’t file on time, you can apply for an extension. But be aware that an extension doesn’t give you more time to pay any taxes you owe. You’ll still have to make an estimated payment by April 17.
Should I file early?
One big advantage to filing early is that you’ll get your refund early. You will often get it faster, too. The system gets more and more bogged as the deadline approaches and more people start sending in their returns.
Filing early also has some other bonuses. If you’re using a tax preparer, they will often charge extra if it’s close to the deadline. Plus, if there is a problem with your return, you’ll have time to sort it out.
Even if you don’t file early, be sure not to file late. The penalty fees and interest on any tax due add up very fast.
Have more questions?
If you still have tax questions, don’t worry! Taxes are complicated, so don’t feel bad if you can’t figure it all out on your own. It’s always a good idea to work with a professional tax preparer to make sure you get the maximum refund and avoid any mistakes on your tax return. VTax even includes audit assistance with all of our tax returns. If you receive a letter or are otherwise contacted by the IRS or state taxing agency, our expert representatives will defend any income tax return we prepared at no additional charge. Get a free quote from VTax today!