Preparing your taxes can be stressful, but with a little preparation and guidance from FreeTaxUSA, you can do it correctly on your own. Just follow these simple tips.
1.) Get your documents ready before starting.
Before you begin your tax return, gather all the important documents. Make sure you have a copy of your tax return from last year and the personal information for your spouse and dependents you want to claim.
By the end of January or early February, you should receive all your tax documents like forms W-2, 1099, and 1098. Organize them by form number, grouping similar forms together. You can also organize them in the order you'll enter them in your return.
If you have a business, farm, or rental activity, consider using financial software to organize your income and expenses into simple statements. Print relevant reports from the software to have them handy.
Keep a record of how you came up with figures for your return when you don't have clear records. Create a list, worksheet, or spreadsheet with notes explaining how you calculated estimated numbers. For example, note how you valued noncash charitable donations or determined the value of inherited real estate. If you use your vehicle for business purposes, figure out your total business and personal miles separately.
2.) Follow the step-by-step instructions in the software.
Our online tax software is designed to guide you through the process, making sure you include all relevant sources of income, deductions, and credits the first time. Be careful not to skip any less common income or expense items.
When you reach a screen with a list of items and buttons to start or edit them, scan the list to ensure you don't miss anything important.
If you realize you missed something at the end of your return, don't worry. You can click on the menu tab to go back and enter the missed item.
3.) Complete one section at a time.
Preparing taxes can take time, and it's important to get it right the first time. To ensure your return is complete, focus on one section at a time. If you feel tired working on a particular part, take a break and return when you're refreshed. It's common for people to leave an income item unfinished and never come back to complete it, which can lead to errors and problems.
If you find missing items like receipts or an IRS form, use the bookmark feature at the top of each screen to mark those sections. This will remind you to revisit them later, and the bookmark function allows you to navigate directly to where you need to go.
If there's a missing item and you're tempted to enter a temporary estimate to see your refund or tax due, remove the estimate in the same session and bookmark the page. You don't want to accidentally file your return with incorrect information.
4.) Review your return before sending or mailing it.
Once you reach the Filing section and are ready to file, carefully go through the entire section. Pay close attention to the following:
- The "Let's double-check your return info" screen will show possible tax alerts that should be resolved before filing. Yellow alerts are “Cautions” that may not require correction, but red alerts must be fixed. Check the yellow alerts to see if any corrections are needed. You can ignore them if they can't or don't need to be fixed. Fix the red alerts and contact customer support if you can't figure out how to resolve the issue.
- After the "Let's double-check your return info" screen, you'll come to the "Review your tax return screen. Click View on the Federal and the State tax returns. Read through each page of both returns. Make sure all the income has been reported and all the expenses have been entered. If there is something missing, make sure you fix it by going back to those items.
After you’ve reviewed your return, you’re just about done! Continue and select to e-file or file by mail. You will need your Prior Year Return for an e-file signature. This signature is either your AGI or Self-select PIN. Then make sure you go through to the screen labeled “Let's send in your tax return!” On this screen, you need to click the Send Tax Return (or Mail Tax Return) button. Print copies of your return on the “Congratulations!” screen.