Tax Return Filing Basics
There are a few things you should know about preparing and filing your return before beginning the filing process. Understanding the information on this page will make your attempts to get a tax refund easier and less stressful.
Social Security Numbers
It is important that you have the correct Social Security Number and date of birth for each person you will claim as an exemption on your return. If each name, Social Security Number, and date of birth do not match exactly when you file the return, the IRS will reject your return and ask you to submit the correct information.
Preparing your tax return will be easier if the records you need are organized and readily available:
- Proof of identification
- Social Security Numbers for you, your spouse, and dependents
- Birth dates for you, your spouse, and dependents
- Wages and earnings statements: Forms W-2, W-2G, 1099-R, etc.
- Interest and dividends statements from banks, brokerages, etc.
- A copy of last year's tax return
- Bank routing and account numbers
- The amount you paid for childcare and the childcare provider's tax identification number
- Receipts for charitable donations
Preparing Your Return
You can choose to prepare your return yourself or get assistance from a qualified tax professional. If you choose to prepare your return yourself, consider using a tax software program to assist you. Tax software can make the preparation easier, help you understand all the credits and deductions you are qualified to receive, and allow you to e-file your return. 1040.com Online Tax Preparation lets you prepare and e-file both your federal and state taxes.
Hiring a Professional
If you choose to hire a tax professional to prepare your tax return, choose carefully. It is important to choose a qualified professional, because you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your return. Before signing your return, review it to make sure that all information is correct and that you understand the entries. Never sign an unfinished return.
Free Tax Preparation Assistance
If you cannot afford a professional tax preparer or you need help preparing your own return, you can visit an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. Each VITA site has volunteers who are trained to help you prepare basic tax returns and e-file your return. VITA sites are for taxpayers making $51,000 or less. To locate a VITA site near you, call (800) 906-9887.