I have been doing my own tax return since I got my first job at the age of 16. That means I have been doing my own tax return for (dare I admit it?) more than 20 years. With one exception, I did not do my own tax return the year when we bought our first home. I’ll admit it I was scared, too much new stuff that I did not know. But after paying several hundred dollars to have some one else prepare my tax return that year I was determine to figure out the whole mortgage piece of it and continue doing my own tax return. I have learned a few things over the years.
What I learned doing my own tax return
1. Be meticulous about saving receipts for charitable donations, monetary or material. You’ve been doing good all year long, keep track of it. Every dollar or bag of clothing donated adds up to a nice deduction. Keep the receipt, make sure it includes a date and a description so you can remember what it was for. The IRS wants to know these things.
2. Using tax return preparation software is easy. Software programs such as TaxAct, TurboTax, or HR Block Tax Software will walk you through every step. The best part is that you can easily e-file your taxes. So if you are procrastinating, ahem, and need to get them done quickly you can use tax software for a quick turn around. That being said, my personal goal is to always have my taxes done and filed by the end of February.
3. Always print out your return after you have e-filed it. This is a peace of mind thing but also helpful if you are ever need a physical copy of your return. Do it right away. You will forget if you don’t. Well I will forget if I don’t do it right away. Once you have your printed copy put it in a big envelope with all your other tax forms (1098, 1099, W2), receipts, and any other required documentation. That way everything is all in one place, again just in case you ever need it.
4. The fourth and final thing I have learned doing my own taxes is that I can do it! And so can you! It is your money and you should learn more about income taxes. Preparing your own return teaches you about the tax law. It really isn’t rocket science and with great tax return preparation software almost anyone should be able to confidently prepare and file their own taxes.
I am curious…are you a file them right away type or do you dread the deed and procrastinate? Have you ever had to file an extension? Do you do your own taxes? Do you have and tips to share like me that I have learned from doing my own tax return?