Ever wonder if you actually need to file a federal income tax return? Well, you may be onto something. Identifying whether or not you need to file will save both you and the government time and money. People can check the Individuals section of the IRS website or use their Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if they qualify.
Know Your Status
Select the filing status that reflects your situation. There are five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child. (Read Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information to determine the filing status that best fits your status.)
Last year alone, 99 million people—70 percent of all individual taxpayers—used IRS e-file to electronically transmit their tax returns, according to the government agency. With electronic filing, you can literally submit your taxes up until the very last second without penalty. E-filing is an easy and cost-effective method to filing your taxes. Plus, it does the math for you. If you’re concerned about not knowing all the credits you qualify for, remember, most software programs have step-by-step instructions, which increases accuracy and the possibility of receiving a larger refund. Those with an adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less may be able to use the IRS’s Free File option, where taxpayers use online software donated by TurboTax and other tax agencies.
<ul> <li><strong>Check and Double-Check Inputted Figures</strong></li> <li><span style="font-weight: normal">Unlike e-filing, paper returns require that you double-check recorded numbers manually. Make sure you have correctly figured out the refund and balance due. </span><span style="font-weight: normal">For those wanting to cut out the middleman when it comes to your returns, combine e-file and direct deposit. With paper checks constantly being returned by the U.S. Post Office, direct deposit eliminates the chance of your refund check being returned, lost or stolen. Plus, your refund may arrive in as few as 10 days.</span></li> </ul>
Seal it With a Signature
Your return must be signed and dated. If you’re married, both spouses are required to sign a joint return—even if only one had income. Also, anyone paid to prepare a return must sign it. Those e-filing, need to sign the form electronically using a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Make Sure You Have the Correct Mailing Address
Those mailing their return should check the exact mailing address used. It’s listed under the Where to Filesection of the IRS resources.
As the deadline nears, you should decide whether or not you’d be filing a return or an extension. Filing for an extension of time does not mean you have more time to pay any tax due, rather just provides you with more time to get your files in order. Remember, you can always file your return on time and pay as much as you can upfront.
When it Doubt, Ask Questions
Tax related forms, publications and additional information is available on the IRS website. Filers can also call the TeleTax Topics hotline at (800) 829-4477.