7 Year-End To-Dos if You’re Filing Your Own Taxes Next Year
by Susannah McQuitty
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When December rolls around, one of the best presents you can give yourself is to get in all the preparatory steps for filing your taxes.
I mean it, though. Not only could you save yourself a headache, you could save actual money when you go to file. Real cash.
Now we’re talking.
Here’s what to do at the end of the year to maximize tax savings and minimize tax-related migraines come filing time.
Get all your end-of-year tax info in one place
I know what you’re thinking: “Man, the holidays are so laid-back and boring—I really wish I could be digging in old boxes and email folders for tax forms right about now.”
Listen, I get it. Who wants to go looking for IRS notices when there are presents to wrap and cookies to eat?
That said, I also know exactly how much easier it is to get your taxes done in one sitting when you’re not chasing down forms and letters like a treasure hunter with a leather hat and a five-o-clock shadow.
So, what sort of stuff should you be looking for? The basics like Forms W-2 and 1099 won’t arrive until late January, but you can definitely get other 2021-specific documents like:
- Letter 6419, 2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit Payments, to reconcile advance child tax credit payments
- Letter 6475, Your 2021 Economic Impact Payment, to determine eligibility to claim the recovery rebate credit
- Form 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement, to reconcile advance premium tax credits for Marketplace coverage
Even just setting aside a spot in your home that is The Boring Tax Paperwork Corner will help you in a big way once it’s time to file. Since half of the battle of filing is just chasing down numbers, you’re already winning before the year is even finished.
Confirm mailing and email addresses and report name changes
Anyone get married or divorced in 2021? Move to a new apartment? Finally decide it was time for a new email address because t0tally_cUte_ch1ck@embarassing.com was killing your resume vibe?
Once all the tax forms start rolling in, you want to make sure that the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Postal Service, and your employer all have the right info for you—and that all their info matches.
If not, your tax return could get rejected after you do all that work.
View IRS account information online
The IRS now has a portal where you can go online and see all your information, update it if necessary, or even request an IP PIN (more on that in a moment).
If you have an online account, logging in and making sure everything looks right should definitely be on your to-do list.
Don’t have an account? They’re simple to set up, and once you have one, proving your identity online with the IRS is way easier.
Note: To use an Online Account, you will need to set up an ID.me account for verification. (For returning users, ID.me will be required starting in summer 2022.)
Apply for an IP PIN
Friends, if you don’t already have one, here’s your sign to get a free IP PIN. An Identity Protection Personal Information Number (IP PIN) is a 6-digit number known only to you and the IRS. It gets updated every year, so it’s a great layer of extra security.
These things are no joke. Originally, they were designed to help protect victims of identity theft from further harm. Now, so long as you can prove your identity to the IRS, you can get one before bad luck strikes.
Best of all, we have a handy printable checklist to help you grab everything you need to get an IP PIN before you actually start the process.
Figure out if you’ll need to make estimated tax payments
Here’s one that trips people up, especially if they work a side-gig job. Typically, an employer holds back taxes from your paycheck and sends that money to the IRS throughout the year.
When you’re working independently, though, that responsibility is on you. Once per quarter, any taxes from income earned in that quarter need to be sent to the IRS, or you’ll owe a late penalty.
The last two quarterly deadlines for 2021 are January 15 and April 15 (you just include quarterly payments with your annual taxes). If you need to make quarterly payments and haven’t yet, making them now will prevent your penalties from growing.
Use the same 1040.com account again so your info can auto-fill
One of the best things about filing with 1040.com is that we automatically pull as much info as we can from year to year. That saves you time by cutting out tedious, repetitive data entry.
This great auto-fill tool is utterly lost when 1040.com-loving users come back to file again and don’t remember their password. Instead of recovering it, they just make a new account and move on.
The problem is that we don’t save information based on social security number, name, W-2, or anything like that. For your security, the only thing that ties those together is your 1040.com account.
If you make a new account when you come back, you have to start from square one.
Worst of all, when it’s time to put in your prior-year AGI (a security measure required by the IRS), you’ll have to go through the headache of looking up that number. We would just auto-fill it if you were using the same account, but if you’re in a new one, we can’t do that.
We want you to have the best possible filing experience, and one of the easiest ways to ensure that is to use the same 1040.com account each year.
Donating to charity could get you a $300 deduction, even if you don’t itemize
Looking for ways to cut down on consumer culture this holiday season? Look no further—if you donate to a charity, you could get up to $300 off your taxable income ($600 if you’re married filing jointly!).
Usually, deductions for charitable donations are only available if you itemize. This year, though, the $300 deduction is above-the-line, which means you can add it to the standard deduction. Pretty sweet, right?
Just make sure you’re donating to a qualified charitable organization. You can look it up on the IRS database if you’re not sure.
There you have it—7 ways to prep for taxes at the end of the year
I know the holidays are in full swing, but no one can wrap presents 24/7, right? Using these tips, you can make tax time so much smoother and even save money on your taxes owed.
Don’t have an account yet? That’s an easy fix. Making your 1040.com account today means you’ll be in the loop for tax updates as soon as they roll out. We can’t wait to serve you in 2022!
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