5 Steps for Doing Your Own Taxes
Doing your own taxes won’t earn you a merit badge and there is no grand celebration once you hit the “send” button on your e-filed return. But preparing your own taxes does build confidence and knowledge that can open the door to better financial decision making throughout the year.
Step 1: Gather Your Thoughts (and Your Paperwork)
Those who fall in the single-and-simple category have it easy. It’s not until you have property, children, investments and multiple income sources that tax filing gets hairy. Start by taking inventory of any relevant life events from the past year.
Step 2: Do Your Homework
The more you know, the more empowered you will be to tackle your taxes year after year and find ways to fatten your refund—or adjust your withholding to spread that money evenly throughout the year. Start by studying tax credits and deductions, such as earned income tax credits, education credits and charitable contribution deductions to see what you qualify for.
Step 3: Explore Tax-Filing Options
Once you gain some understanding of all that goes into filing your own taxes, take a deep breath and know that you are not alone. Tax help abounds, and often for free.