Unfortunately, many Americans are unsure of how to correctly prepare for filing returns or pay owed taxes on time. Ensure you’re ahead of the game when tax time comes around by making sure you complete these actions:
How and Where to File
E-filing has become a common – and preferred – way to file taxes, but many people still opt for the paper-filing method. Regardless of which format you choose, review the following IRS online services to simplify the complex process of preparing and filing your return.
Visit IRS.gov to determine the criteria on what type of return you need or don’t need to file. Have handy:
• Filing status
• Marital status
• Percentage of income for household uses
• Spouses year of death (if applicable)
• Federal income tax withheld
• Basic information to help you determine your gross income
Determining your filing status: Your filing status can affect your standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits, tax liability and filing requirements.
Downloadable tax forms: Tax forms and publications for individuals and businesses are available for download and print on the IRS website, including for past years.
At the end of each tax year, employers are required to issue a Form W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement), which reports your earnings for the year and how much income, social security and Medicare tax was withheld from your pay. You need your W-2 to file your taxes every year, so if your employer hasn’t sent them by the deadline, try these steps:
• Contact your employer or former employer (from most recent year) to make sure your W-2 was sent the correct address.
• Call the IRS hotline at 800-829-1040. Make sure you are ready to give the following information:
o Your name, SSN, address and phone number
o Your employer’s name, address and phone number
o Your employment dates
o An estimation of your wages and federal income tax withheld (can base off of your last pay stub)
The IRS will contact your employer with a Form 4598, Form W-2, 1098 or 1099 Not Received, Incorrect, or Lost. You’ll receive a copy of the Form 4598 and Form 4852 (Substitute for Form W-2) to use in case your employee still hasn’t issued a W-2 by April 15.
Filing for an extension: Always be sure to file your taxes on time, even if you use the Substitute for Form W-2. If you don’t think you can make the April 15 deadline, you can use Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File) on or before April 15 to earn yourself a few months.