Do your taxes and you will get your most common questions answered.

You probably have a lot of questions about how to do your taxes, even if you've never done them before or are not an accountant.It's not necessary to fill out and file a tax return in the United States.If you have your most pressing questions answered, you can prepare for a tax season that's not as taxing.

Step 1: If you are able, there is.

You would have to pay to have someone do your taxes.If you make less than $56,000, have a disability, or have limited English-speaking skills, you may be able to get free assistance filling out your returns through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.If you're over 60, you can take advantage of the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program, which offers free advice and assistance to help you get your taxes done.Enter your ZIP code to find free tax help near you.

Step 2: Look at your finances.

If you're self-employed, have substantial investments, or have a complex tax situation, then you need a tax professional on your side.It might be worth it for you to pay someone to do your taxes.If you find taxes confusing or get stressed out doing them on your own, you'll probably find that hiring a tax pro is worth the money.It's a good time to get a tax pro if you're buying or selling a home.If you're asking if you need to hire a tax pro, you would benefit from doing so.You can get a consultation with a tax pro in your area.You can decide if you want to hire them or not.

Step 3: It depends on the tax pro you use.

You will pay more to hire a tax payer than you will to use tax preparation software.Depending on the complexity of your return, H&R Block will charge between $100 and $300.The tax preparers who work in these offices are usually not accountants and don't have a relationship with you after tax season.You'll pay more than $1,000 for a certified public accountant or tax attorney.You're paying for the credentials and experience, as well as the benefit of having access to them year-round, if you have questions about taxes or other financial matters.

Step 4: They should check their credentials and experience.

Make sure the tax pro you hire is licensed and qualified to do taxes.Check out the tax pro in the IRS directory for their credentials and qualifications.If you use the directory to find potential tax pros in your area, you won't have to meet them.If you're going to hire an accountant, you should look for someone who is close to you and similar to your financial values and interests.They will be more likely to give you advice.You would want to look for an accountant in their late 20s or early 30s if you're a 22-year-old graphic artist.It's a good idea if they have similar clients.If you're a musician, you might want an accountant who has other musicians as clients.

Step 5: Tax preparation software is a good way to go.

Your answers to some questions are used to fill out your tax forms.The questions are easy to understand and free of tax jargon.If you want to use tax preparation software, you'll have to pay a fee, but it's usually less than $100.If you get a refund, you may be able to take the fee out of it.You can use tax preparation software for free if you make less than $69,000.Depending on the brand of software, other conditions apply.To find out if there's a free option for you, go to the IRS app.

Step 6: If you use tax preparation software, you can ask questions.

You can chat online with a live tax expert if you have questions.The IRS website has a help and resource center that provides answers to most common tax questions as well as information about various tax topics.The IRS has instructions on how to use the free file fillable forms if you need help.

Step 7: It depends on your age, income, and whether you're single or married.

You don't need to file a tax return if you make less than $12,000 a year.If you make more than $5 in income, you have to file a return.You have to file a tax return if you have self-employment income of $400 or more.If you're a child and your parents claim you as a dependent, there are different rules.You can file a tax return on your own.If your only income is interest or dividends from investments in your name, your parents can claim that on your taxes.

Step 8: A child under the age of 18 is likely to have a dependent.

The most common dependents are biological and adopted children.If they are full-time students and not providing more than half of their own support, you can claim biological and adopted children as dependents until they turn 24.If you provide more than half of their financial support, you can claim them as a dependent.They don't have to live with you if they're a close relative.If you want to claim your distant relatives as dependents, you have to live with them for the entire tax year.

Step 9: Federal income tax is paid on any income you receive.

Taxable income can include money, property, or services, according to the IRS.The following categories are considered taxable income and must be reported on your taxes.Property and services are taxed according to their fair market value.Money or property you gain include canceled or forgiven debt, interest or dividends from investments, real estate gains, rent, royalties, stock options, unemployment compensation and government benefits.

Step 10: The IRS recognizes different filing statuses.

They are single, married filing separately, head of household, and a widow with a dependent child.In a given tax year, more than one filing status may apply to you.You can choose which filing status will allow you to pay the least amount of tax.The first 3 filing statuses are based on your marriage.For tax purposes, your marital status on December 31 is considered for the entire year.You and your spouse will pay more in taxes if you choose to file your taxes separately.To see which one would benefit you the most, do your taxes both ways.Each of the "head of household" and "qualifying widow(er) with dependent child" filing statuses has specific rules and conditions that must be met before you can claim them.You can use the IRS's online tool to figure out which filing status is right for you.

Step 11: The federal tax brackets are based on your income and filing status.

As of 2020, the tax brackets have rates of 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%.The lower your rate, the less money you make.Suppose you're a single college student with a part-time job who makes a lot of money.You would pay $750 in taxes if your tax rate was 10%.If you file a tax return, you will get all of the money back because the standard deduction for a single person is $12,200.

Step 12: Take advantage of credits and deductions.

It's important to keep in mind that getting a big refund isn't a great thing.You've given the IRS an interest-free loan if you get a big refund.If you keep that money in your paycheck, you can do a lot more with it.Your employer will deduct more money from your paycheck for taxes if you adjust your W-4.If you ask your employer to cover your tax liability more than they need to, you'll get a big refund.If you were getting your money in your paychecks throughout the year, you could have done more with it.You can take a larger deduction on your taxes if you contribute the maximum amount to your retirement accounts.You can maximize your deductions by pre-paying business expenses that are due in January.

Step 13: Both credits and deductions can reduce your taxes.

A credit reduces the amount of tax that you pay.A credit is when the government says "you've already paid this much in taxes."You earned $24,000 in 2019.You'll pay $2,880 in taxes if you're in the 12% tax brackets.If you got a $2,000 deduction, it would reduce your income by $22,000.You would only have to pay $2,640 in taxes if you were in the 12% tax brackets.The deduction reduced your taxes by $240.You qualified for a $2,000 credit if you paid $2,880 in taxes.You would only owe $880 in taxes if you received that credit.

Step 14: It depends on the amount of credit you have.

Some credits are non-refundable.Most tax credits are non-refundable, which means you only get the value of the credit to the extent of your tax liability.The Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers is one of the biggest tax credits.If you owe $5,000 in taxes, you can see how this works.You don't owe anything to the IRS when you file your taxes because your employer took $5,000 from your paychecks over the course of the year.You aren't getting a refund.You could potentially get a $2,000 tax credit if you qualified.If the credit was non-refundable, you wouldn't get anything.Look at another example.If you owe $5,000 in taxes but your employer only withholding $4,000 from your paychecks, you're looking at a $1,000 tax bill.If you qualified for a $2,000 nonrefundable tax credit in this instance, $1,000 would wipe out your tax bill.If you qualified for a $2,000 tax credit, you would get a $1,000 refund.

Step 15: Not right.

If you're seeking higher education, there are tax benefits, but you can't deduct tuition and fees from your income.American Opportunity Credit: Up to $2,500 in tuition and fees for the first 4 years of post-secondary education.You can get up to $1,000 back if you don't owe any taxes.There is a Lifetime Learning Credit for post-secondary education that doesn't qualify for the American Opportunity Credit.The credit is non-renewable.There is a student loan interest deduction.You can take this even if you take the standard deduction.

Step 16: It's better to take the standard deduction.

If you take the standard deduction, you will pay less in taxes because it will be higher than your itemized deductions.If you had uninsured medical and dental expenses, large uninsured casualty or theft losses, or paid a large amount of interest and taxes on your home, it might be better for you to deduct them.You can try to do your taxes both ways if you're not sure.This doesn't mean you have to do your taxes again.If you want to compare the total to the standard deduction, add up the amounts you would claim as itemized deductions.itemizing won't do you any good if it's lower than the standard deduction.

Step 17: There are a lot of "above-the-line" deductions that you can take.

Adjustments to income are also known as these.If you take the standard deduction, you can take them to reduce your income.Contributions to an IRA or other retirement plan, expenses for books and supplies incurred by teachers, health savings accounts, and interest on student loans are some of the above-the-line deductions.

Step 18: Business expenses are deductible if they are "ordinary and necessary".

This means the expense is something common and accepted in your line of work, and is helpful and appropriate for increasing your profit.Suppose you want to use a ride-share app.A portion of your expenses for owning, insuring, and maintaining your car would be deductible.The cost of fuel is deductible.snacks and bottles of water are deductible if you keep them in your car for your fares.Since you need your phone while driving, you can deduct a portion of your payments.Most of the business expenses listed by the IRS are self-explanatory.If you use accounting software for your business, you can organize your expenses in the same categories to make it easier for you at tax time.

Step 19: In certain circumstances you can.

You may be able to deduct a portion of your rent and utilities as the costs of maintaining your home office.It must be your main place of business to claim a home office.The space can only be used for business.This doesn't mean that you have to have an entire room in your home for business.There is a desk in a corner.You can't use the desk in the corner for anything other than business.The simplified option is used by most people with home offices.You measure the square footage of the area you use as a home office, up to a maximum of 300 square feet.$5 is the standard deduction per square foot.This method doesn't require you to keep up with your expenses.

Step 20: That's absolutely correct!

You can take mileage deductions as well as deductions for costs associated with maintaining your vehicle.You can deduct business expenses related to the work you do for your income as an independent contractor.Insurance and maintenance costs have to be apportioned since you likely also use your vehicle for personal reasons.If you want to figure out the percentage of hours that you're ride-sharing, add up the total hours you drive.You could deduct 25% of your insurance and maintenance costs for every 25% you spent on ride-sharing.You might be able to take other deductions as well.For example, if you keep water bottles or snacks in your car for your fares, wash it before you go out to ride-share, or buy special lights or other decorations to make it stand out, you can deduct the cost of those things as business expenses.

Step 21: You don't have to.

You don't have to turn those in with your return.If the IRS audits your tax returns, you will only be able to claim the deductions that you have receipts for.It's a good idea to have receipts to back up your claims.You should keep all of the documents that back up your deductions and credits for at least 3 years.It's a good idea to keep digital copies of receipts.They'll remain legible because they take up less space.Most sales receipts are printed on thermal paper.

Step 22: The taxes are due on April 15.

If the 15th falls on a weekend, the deadline is pushed back to the next Monday.The paper return has to be post-marked by the due date.If you want to file your return earlier, the IRS starts accepting returns at the end of January.

Step 23: You can file your tax return electronically.

Tax preparation software will e-file your taxes for you if you use it.Tax pros are required to file returns electronically.You can use fillable forms to e-file for free.If you want to file paper forms, you can go to and click on where to send your return.

Step 24: Penalties could be 25% of the tax you owe.

If you did not file a return to claim your refunds, you won't face a penalty.If you don't file taxes for years, you could be charged with tax evasion and end up in prison.There is no statute of limitations on collecting taxes.The government can go after you for the rest of your life if you don't pay up.

Step 25: You would get the money sooner if you're due a refunds.

If you file early, you don't get a break if you owe taxes.It protects you from identity theft if you file early.No one can file a fake return using your identity because it wouldn't be accepted.

Step 26: There are a lot of factors.

The way you file, the credits you claim, and the complexity of your return are included.Selecting direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund.Most tax returns are processed within 21 days.If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, it might take longer for you to get your money back.You can check your refund status by going to the IRS website.It can take up to 8 weeks to process your return and issue a refund if you mail a paper form.

Step 27: If you made a math error, you don't need to think about it.

The IRS will correct any errors you make.Form 1040-X can be used to correct errors on your original return.Attach a copy of any additional forms you make changes to to your Form 1040-X.Instructions can be found at

Step 28: The receipts are required for everything you deducted.

You don't have to show up in person or talk to an IRS agent, they'll simply send you a letter and ask you to mail in documentation for your deductions.The IRS will give you a letter with contact information and instructions if you are audited.Your initial letter will include a list of the types of documents the IRS needs to back up their claims.You can simply mail the documents back to the IRS.The IRS can arrange an in-person audit if there are too many documents to mail.

Step 29: It depends on how you file your return and payment method.

You can pay the IRS in virtually any way that's convenient for you.If you want to pay with a check or money order, you can use one of the payment addresses listed on the IRS website.The address you use depends on where you live.You can pay your tax bill with cash at many IRS retail partners.Look for the PayNearMe logo at local convenience stores and pharmacies if you want to find a location near you.If you want to pay with a credit or debit card, you can use the IRS Direct Pay website.You can pay directly through the tax preparation software if you use it.

Step 30: The IRS has a number of payment options.

Depending on how much you owe in taxes and how long you need to pay in full, there are several different payment agreements.If you have a low income, the setup fee is free.Automatic withdrawals from your bank account can lower the fees.You have to file a return before you can apply for an agreement.

Step 31: If your employer keeps taxes out of your paycheck, that's not right.

If you are self-employed or work as an independent contractor, you should be paying taxes.If you owe more than $1,000 in taxes, you should make quarterly estimated tax payments, according to the IRS.The IRS may impose a penalty on top of the taxes you owe if you failed to make estimated tax payments.If you have any self-employment income, you should go ahead and make them.

Step 32: It is dependent.

If you were self-employed in the previous year and expect your income to be the same, you can use the amount of taxes you paid to estimate the taxes that will be due the next year.If you anticipate that you'll make more money, you can use the form to figure out what your estimated tax payments need to be.You can find Form 1040-ES at the IRS website.It will tell you what your estimated tax payments are when you enter your information.You can add an extra 10% to the quarterly payment if your self-employment income fluctuates.When you file your taxes, you'll get a refund if you overpaid.

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