Before jumping head first into filing your taxes there are a few things you should consider.
W-2’s? 1099’s? They just might be the beginning of what you need to do, depending on what you have going on in your life. Make sure you get your paperwork in order. You don’t know what you can and cannot claim unless you check. Visit the IRS claims and deductions page to get a comprehensive list of claimable and tax-deductible income and expenses at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions.
Now that you’re prepared, you really need to determine how complex your tax returns are. E-filing gets easier every year with smart programs, like Turbo Tax, which help you do your own filing. However, if you’re new to claiming income or expenses beyond your personal income, hiring a professional would likely be the best option. Make an appointment with an expert to find all the answers to your questions about doing your taxes. If you are thorough, you might be able to prepare your filings on your own next year.
We can’t stress how important it is to file your taxes on time. Avoid unnecessary charges like the failure to file penalty by getting your taxes filed by the deadline date. In most cases, the sooner you file your return, the sooner you will get your refund (if you’re eligible). Didn’t file your income taxes last year? That’s okay too. If you owe money, you will be charged a fee, but payment options are available. If you file and you are supposed to get a refund, there are no penalties! However, don’t put off filing for too long because if you fail to file for over 3 years, you will lose the opportunity to claim any refunds and if you owe money, the IRS might determine that you are engaging in tax evasion.
If you receive a refund, remember to curb any impulses to spend it frivolously. Put those funds towards repayment of your debt – the relief of seeing your outstanding balances go down far outweighs the joy of a new smartphone. If you must spend it on something else, think long and hard about the amount of time it would take you to earn the amount of your refund and consider whether it’s worth using it on unnecessary expenses.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read). Get your paperwork in order, decide who is qualified to do your taxes, file early, and if applicable, save your refund or spend it responsibly.