FAQ: Preparing Your Taxes
With tax day right around the corner, you may have some questions regarding how and when to file your taxes, which forms you will need to submit, and even whether you should prepare your return yourself or turn to a professional for help. Luckily, we’ve put together answers for the most frequently asked questions during tax season.
When should I submit my return?
This year, the official day tax returns are due is April 15, 2019. However, if you learned anything while you were in school, you know it’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to complete important tasks and assignments. When preparing your tax return, you should always account for enough time to ask questions or contact a professional tax preparer in case you run into any issues.
And while you don’t want to file your taxes last minute, you also shouldn’t file them too early. The typical deadline for employers and banks to send necessary forms is January 31, so you’ll need to wait until then to make sure you received all the documents you need and avoid having to amend your return.
Which forms do I need to submit?
If you are employed, you’ll need to submit a W-2, which will be sent to you by your employer. Other forms commonly submitted include a 1098, which details the amount of interest and other expenses paid on a mortgage, and a 1099, which reports various types of income other than wages and salaries. For example, in a 1099, any interest earned on bank deposits, CDs and bonds should be reported.
Be sure to keep your mailing address up to date with your bank so that you receive your 1099 and 1098 forms on time. If you prefer to receive an electronic copy of your forms, check if your bank offers online banking so you can download and print your forms as soon as they’re ready.
Can I prepare my tax return myself, or do I need to seek help from a professional?
When it’s time to submit your return, you have two options: you can either take the DIY route or you can turn to a CPA or tax preparer to submit your return. If you decide to file your taxes on your own, you can file online for free on IRS.gov or with a variety of other reputable online tax filing services.
However, if you are self-employed, a small business owner, own several rental properties or investments, or are filing independently for the first time, your tax documents may be more complicated, so you may want to consult a CPA or professional tax preparer to submit your return.
What life events can make my tax return different from the previous year?
Certain life events can determine whether you’ll pay more or less tax than the previous year. Some of those life changes include getting married, having a child, inheriting or winning money, obtaining new investments, buying or selling a home, and taking distributions from a 401(k). Be sure to let your tax preparer know about any such changes in your life.