Filing your taxes can be an arduous process. For many filers, the process is complex and confusing. Whether you use online software or head to a professional, it’s easy to forget some critical steps. If you want to make sure that your taxes are in tip-top shape, here are five things you need to do before submitting your taxes.
1. Double Check Social Security Numbers
When it comes to common mistakes, incorrect Social Security numbers is one of the biggest. Many people don’t have their Social Security number memorized, let alone their family members. They may think that what they listed is correct, only to be wrong.
Plus, it’s easy to accidentally mistype these nine-digit identifiers. Typos happen quite often, even when people try to be careful. By doubling checking every Social Security number on your return, you ensure that there isn’t a mistake that could impact your taxes.
2. Explore Every Possible Credit and Deduction
There are a surprising number of tax credits and deductions. If you accidentally overlook one, the IRS isn’t going to tell you. All that happens is you end up overpaying for the year (unless you catch it later yourself and choose to amend your return).
Before you hit submit on your taxes, review your eligibility for credits and deductions. For example, if you attend college (or just graduated last year), you might be eligible for the lifetime learning or American Opportunity Tax Credit, along with student loan interest deductions.
Even if you are fairly certain you don’t qualify, it doesn’t hurt to take a moment and check. That way, you decrease your odds of missing something that could have helped you put more money back in your pocket.
3. Look for Free E-Filing Options
Many tax software providers will let you start preparing your tax documents for free. But, once it comes time to file, you have to pay for their service. Otherwise, the forms you worked so hard on don’t make it to the IRS.
However, many people are eligible for free e-filing options. Not only can you use the software to prepare your documents, but you can also get it into the hands of the IRS without paying a dime.
If you want to find options, the IRS Free File Online search tool can help. Just choose your income level and see which products are available.
4. See If You’re Being Claimed as a Dependent
Many young adults want to file their own taxes. But, if their parents have been financially supporting them (paying at least half of their child’s living expenses), they might want to claim their kid as a dependent. This makes them eligible for certain tax breaks, so it’s an attractive option for them.
It’s critical to find out if anyone who is eligible to do so plans to claim you as a dependent. Otherwise, if there’s a mismatch, it could cause your or your parents’ claim to be rejected. If that happens, then there will be some IRS headaches to deal with that could likely been avoided with a quick conversation.
5. File Even If You Don’t Technically Have To
If your annual income was below the standard deduction ($12,200 for single filers for the 2019 tax year), you technically don’t have to file a tax return if you are under the age of 65 and don’t have any special circumstances. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file.
For anyone who paid taxes during the year, such as those who worked for someone else and received a W-2, it’s always better to file. You likely had taxes pulled from your pay, and you might be eligible to get that money back. Plus, there’s a chance that you qualify for tax credits or deductions that could lead to a refund, too.
Unless you at least go through the process, you won’t know if you are owed money. As a result, it’s always best to at least complete the forms. That way, you’ll know whether filing is worth your while.
Is there something else people need to make sure they do before submitting their taxes? Let us know in the comments below.
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