December 01, 2017
When it comes time to file your taxes, there are three ways to get the job done. No matter how you decide to file, there are certain things you should have ready ahead of time to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Prepare Your Tax Documents Before Filing
Before you even choose the way you want to file your taxes you’ll need to make sure you have access to your personal information and relevant financial accounts. For example, you will need the social security numbers for anyone named on the tax return, including your dependents.
Gather documentation that shows all your income for the year, including W-2s from employers, 1099 forms for any contract work you or your spouse performed, investment income information, and paperwork that shows any rental income, social security benefits, and unemployment income.
If you had moving expenses, a homebuyer tax credit, green energy credits, mortgage interest, student loan interest, or medical savings account contributions, get your paperwork showing those amounts, as well. You may get tax deductions and credits for childcare costs, education costs, charitable contributions, medical expenses, or unreimbursed work expenses. If you have documentation that shows these costs, include it.
If you want to have your tax refund deposited directly into your bank account, you will also need your bank account number and routing number.
Once you gathered all the necessary documnets and account information you can begin filing in one of three ways:
- Fill out and mail paper tax forms
- File your taxes online
- Hire a tax professional
1. Fill Out Paper Tax Forms
Some people prefer to do their taxes by hand using the forms provided by the IRS. If the paperwork is accurate, complete, and matches the information the IRS has on file, you can expect to get any tax refund money back between six and eight weeks after the IRS receives your forms.
Filing taxes using paper forms and the U.S. Mail takes longer because the IRS must process those returns by hand. When you choose to file your return on paper, you can expect the IRS to acknowledge receipt within three to four weeks.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when filing and mailing paper tax forms:
Double-check your work: Take your time filling out the forms and double-check your work for accuracy. Make sure you've entered all the information correctly and that you've signed and dated the forms.
Mail the forms to the correct address: Check the instructions on the form to make sure you're mailing it to the correct address. Make sure you have enough postage and that you've included any required payment.
Keep a copy of your return: Make a copy of your completed tax forms before you mail them. This will be helpful if you need to refer back to your return later or if there are any issues with your return.
2. File Your Taxes Online
According to the IRS, four out of five tax returns are prepared and filed online, either by a professional or by the taxpayer. When you choose to e-file and accept a tax return via direct deposit, you can expect to see the money within 21 days of the IRS accepting your tax forms.
Tax preparation software can be an efficient and cost-effective way to file your taxes online. Many software programs walk you through the tax-filing process step-by-step, and some offer a free version for simple tax returns. Some popular options include TurboTax, H&R Block, and TaxAct.
The IRS estimates that the earliest tax return payments for e-filers who claim the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will be in late February. They can’t legally issue tax returns claiming either of these two credits before mid-February.
3. Let a Tax Professional Handle It
More than half of people in the United States who file taxes let professionals handle it for them. The federal tax code is extensive, so using a professional tax preparer is often the most effective way to ensure that your taxes are done correctly.
With many tax preparation services, you can count on year-round support if there’s a problem with your return or if the IRS chooses to audit you. If finding the time and energy to file your own taxes is keeping you from getting the job done, it may be a good idea to get a free quote from a professional.
Many preparers use free downloadable apps to help make the process streamlined and simple. You can sign electronically and even forward information through the app. There’s no need for an office visit.
Most professional tax preparation services pride themselves on reducing tax bills and increasing refunds for their clients by checking thoroughly for deductions and credits. For many people, it’s worth hiring a professional.
Tax professionals access e-filing and direct deposit to make the process streamlined for their clients. For many filers, using a tax service is the best way to get the biggest refund, quickly.
Sunset Finance Tax Prep & Tax Advance Loans
To avoid delays with your payment, it's a good idea to trust professionals to prepare your tax return. Professional tax services, like Sunset Finance, can help ensure that your tax return is accurate and error-free, which can reduce the risk of delays or audits. They can also help you find deductions and credits that you may have missed, which can increase your refund amount.
At Sunset Finance, we offer free no-obligation quotes on simple returns and provide 12 months of audit assistance. Our clients receive refunds that are, on average, larger than the national IRS average. We also offer tax advance loans of up to $6,000* within 24-48 hours of your tax return acceptance from the IRS.
Free Tax Prep Resources
- We've created the Sunset Finance Guide to Tax Returns to provide more information and make taxes a little less overwhelming.
- Learn what you need to know about filing this year's taxes in this blog. Including current tax brackets and filing dates.
- Learn more about Tax advance loans from our resource called "What is a tax Advance Loan?".
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