6 Tips On Filing Taxes For The First Time

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how to file taxes for the first time

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to stricteditorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. You can choose an electronic deposit directly into a checking or savings account, or split your refund between two or three accounts. This way, you get your money even faster and don’t have to worry that the check will be lost in the mail.

how to file taxes for the first time

The IRS has partnered with select tax software providers, including TaxAct, TaxSlayer, and TurboTax, to provide free preparation of returns for taxpayers who earned $72,000 or less in tax year 2020. We think it’s important for you to understand how we make money. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials. The more you actually learn about the tax system, the less stress you’ll feel filing your first forms. The taxpayer also needs to know that not every deduction affects the amount of income tax due—or the amount of a refund.

You don’t want to accidentally pay tax on the same income more than once. If you’ve filed before, the best way to prep for tax season is to use last year’s tax return as a road map. You can find the federal and state forms you need online at irs.gov or through the website of the Federation of Tax Administrators. Also, keep an eye out for important tax documents that come in the mail, such as the W-2 form from your employer or 1099 forms if you did freelance work. If you got your first job last year, you may have been agitated every payday to see how much of your salary was going to the tax man.

What Are The 2020 Federal Tax Brackets?

Consult with your own financial professional and tax advisor when making decisions regarding your financial situation. Student loan interest.You can deduct up to $2,500 in interest payments, depending on your modified adjusted gross income.

how to file taxes for the first time

Generally, you can file an extension giving you an extra six-months to submit your return, usually in October. But if you owe the government money, you still need to pay your tax liability in full by the due date, typically April 15, to avoid penalties and interest. And if you can’t afford to pay what you owe all at once, the IRS offers payment plans.

Does Everyone Have To File Taxes?

To help you cruise through the process, here are some quick tips for how to file taxes on your own for the first time. For all electronic tax returns, you must use your prior-year adjusted gross income as part of your electronic signature. If you are a first-time filer over the age of 16, simply enter 0 as your prior-year income for signature purposes. If you filed before, your prior-year tax return will show your adjusted gross income. Those who work with business tax preparers should also consult with them to determine the format in which business data should be transmitted for preparation of your returns. Profitable sole proprietors are sometimes surprised to find that self-employment tax (Social Security and Medicare tax for self-employed individuals) can be a significant part of their total tax bill.

If deductions are later questioned by the IRS, Reed says, deductions for which you have no supporting documentation will be disallowed. The need to account for deductible expenses is one requirement for which being a pack rat pays off. It can be a problem for those who throw away receipts and find it cumbersome to jot down things like mileage and expense transactions. Chart A of “1040 Instructions 2020” details 10 separate filing situations and the corresponding income threshold for filing. You’ll often receive your refund even faster if you choose to have your tax refund directly deposited into your checking or savings account. If you’re under the age of 19 (or under age 24 and a full-time student) and your parents provide more than half of your financial support, your parents can likely claim you as a qualifying child. If you are receiving a refund, and most people do, the fastest way to get a refund is through direct deposit to a financial account.

This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. Some of these providers have lower income limits and other qualifying rules, but you can choose the one that best suits you. iPhone is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Auto, homeowners, and renters insurance services offered through Credit Karma Insurance Services, LLC (dba Karma Insurance Services, LLC; CA resident license # ). A senior product specialist with Credit Karma Tax®, Janet Murphy is a CPA candidate with more than a decade in the tax industry.

According to H&R Block, tax credits directly decrease the amount of taxes you owe, while tax deductions lower the overall amount of your taxable income. To file your annual return, you will need to report your income from a business you operated or a profession you practiced as a sole proprietor. To report your Social Security and Medicare taxes, you must file Schedule SE , Self-Employment Tax. Encourage your child to sign their own tax return and forms if they are able. Remind them that they are signing under “penalty of perjury,” meaning if their return isn’t honest, they will be lying under oath. It’s important to note that doing so could result in a higher tax rate than if the child filed their own tax return.

Complete and e-file your tax return only if you have all the income and deduction records you need. The fastest way to get a refund is by filing electronically and selecting direct deposit. According to the IRS, self-employed taxpayers who expect to owe more than $1,000 in self-employment tax must make estimated tax payments four times during the year. You will need to use IRS Form 1040 to file these quarterly taxes.

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For example, you may forget to report income you earned and file before you receive a Form 1099 for that work. And after you file, you receive the 1099 — and then a letter from the IRS stating you owe more tax because of the under-reported income. In the past, you may have had your parents, or their tax preparer, file your taxes. But now that you’re a working professional, you’ll want to take charge of your own finances.

Most young taxpayers can file the 1040EZ, which is the easiest form and has no supplementary forms. To qualify, you cannot claim any dependents and your taxable income must be less than $100,000. In general, experts recommend filing tax returns earlier rather than later. The earlier you file, the better your chances of avoiding tax-related identity theft, a crime that’s on the rise.

In the first two cases, the main reason for filing would be to obtain a refund if one is due. The others are income dependent or based on taking advantage of an opportunity to begin saving for retirement or to begin learning about personal finance. In 2018 and 2019, certain children were taxed using the estate and trust tax brackets, but in 2020, for income above a certain level, the tax rate of the parents will be used. Most students are not taught how to file taxes in school, even though the Internal Revenue Service provides an entire website for educators entitled Understanding Taxes. Request your forms early, as they could be delayed or lost in the mail. You don’t want to be left scrambling before the April 15 filing deadline.

One decision the owner must make is whether to prepare the tax returns on a cash or accrual basis. Use the income or loss calculated on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ to determine the amount of Social Security and Medicare taxes you should have paid during the year. The instructions for Schedule SE may be helpful in filling out the form. A major exception applies to clergy who are employed by a congregation. If a clergy member is paid by a church organization and not directly by the congregation, that exemption might not apply.

  • You can use the blank vouchers that are included with Form 1040-ES to mail your estimated tax payments, or you can pay online using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System .
  • This would eliminate your tax debt—you wouldn’t owe the IRS anything—but the IRS would keep the $200 remaining balance.
  • By the way, earned income can come from a job as an employee or through self-employment.
  • According to Pew Research, roughly 15 million Americans are self-employed.
  • If you own or partially own a business that operates independently from you, then it is passive income.

You can use the blank vouchers that are included with Form 1040-ES to mail your estimated tax payments, or you can pay online using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System . If this is the first year you’re self-employed, you will need to estimate the amount of income you expect to earn for the year. The on-paper tax rate is higher because of self-employment tax. That is a consideration that is important for anyone considering self-employment. That said, there are circumstances that can lead to self-employed people paying lower effective taxes. As mentioned earlier, to accurately calculate your self-employment tax, you need to calculate your net self-employment earnings for the year — which is your self-employment gross income minus your business expenses. Typically, 92.35% of your self-employment net earnings is subject to self-employment tax.

Check with your parents to make sure they are not claiming you as a dependent. You may still file a separate tax return but if you are being claimed as a dependent by others, you cannot claim yourself as a dependent. Free File features 10 brand-name tax software providers who are in a partnership with the IRS to offer their online products for free. Each provider sets additional eligibility requirements, generally based on age, state residency and income.

You must pay the difference by the filing date, usually April 15, if you underpaid. Most federal income tax refunds typically come within 21 days after you e-file a federal return. But if you want money more quickly, you may consider applying for a refund advance. Refund advances are essentially loans that you borrow against your anticipated tax refund. A tax credit directly reduces the amount of tax you owe and could give you a bigger refund if it’s a refundable credit like the AOTC. A tax deduction reduces the amount of income you have to pay tax on, meaning you could end up owing less. It’s a good idea to file your federal income tax return as soon as possible.

Reinforce the importance of paying attention to taxes, filing on time, and taking IRS obligations seriously. Emphasize that tax returns are normally due by April 15 each year but that they can file earlier if they are ready and have all necessary documentation. The IRS typically begins accepting returns sometime in late January. Other reasons to file include owing taxes, recovering withheld taxes, earning Social Security credits, qualifying for an earned income credit, and opening a retirement account. Because children generally don’t receive instruction in school on how to file income taxes, parents need to teach their kids when and how to do it. As your child moves toward adulthood, you face several milestone decisions that involve, in part, a desire to help your child become more independent and responsible.

Messing up on your tax return can cost you money, but you can take steps to avoid some common rookie tax-filing errors. You may use TurboTax Online without charge up to the point you decide to print or electronically file your tax return. Printing or electronically filing your return reflects your satisfaction with TurboTax Online, at which time you will be required to pay or register for the product. Many young adults get financial assistance from their parents, even after they start earning their own money. You might still live with your parents, get money from them to help with living expenses, or they may be paying for your education. If so, your parents might still claim you as a dependent on their tax return. The business tax returns will want to know when you placed the vehicle in service, and the amount of the business, commuting, and personal miles for each vehicle for the year.