What You Should Know Before Filing Your Tax Return

Dacy Knight

Taxes aren't anyone's favorite subject, but they're an unavoidable part of life we all must power through. To ease the pain of the process, we've put together an easily digestible guide to give you all the bullet points you need to file your taxes efficiently and on time this upcoming year.

First, to address the question, "When are taxes due?" the answer is April 18. However, you can start your 2016 tax return as early as January, so if you're the type who likes to get things squared away as soon as possible, then you can get the ball rolling as soon as we begin the New Year. If you're more of the last-minute type, then save yourself from unnecessary tax turmoil this year by studying up on the following tips to make the process more efficient and stress-free. 

Get Organized. Collect all of the documentation that you will need in order to complete your tax return (W-2s, 1099s…). It may also be helpful to have your prior year's tax return on hand for reference. Use it as a guide to make sure that you haven't missed anything.

Do your research, and be prepared. The best way to file a great return is to take account of all of the deductions and credits that you deserve. Using an e-filing service can help you identify all of your potential options but it won't help you when it comes time to input those receipts. Unfortunately, you need a general idea of what your biggest deductions will be. Saving those receipts in a safe place is your best bet.

Avoid an Audit. If you make less than $200,000 a year, your chances of being audited are less than 1%. Still, take your time to make sure the numbers are adding up, and avoid using estimates for your deductions.

Extensions. For all you procrastinators out there, it's not the end of the world if you don't make that April 18 deadline. Worse comes to worse, you can always file for an extension (additional six months to file) but you may be penalized for filing late depending on the scenario.

Head to the comments to share your own tips for filing your taxes.

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