5 min read

Tips for Preparing Your Taxes

Tips for Preparing Your Taxes

With Tax Day coming up on April 15, you may have questions about how and when to file taxes, which forms you need to submit, and whether you should work with a professional to prepare your return. Find answers to these questions and more below and take the stress out of tax season.

Do I need to submit a tax return?

Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who works in the United States, you need to file a tax return. You are required to file a return if your gross income is over the filing requirement or you have more than $400 in net earnings from self-employment. Even if you make less income than required to file, you should consider filing a tax return as you may still qualify for a refund. Learn more on IRS.gov about who needs to file.

When should I submit my return?

In 2024, federal tax returns are due by April 15. However, it’s never a good idea to wait until the last moment to submit. When preparing your tax return, allow for additional time in case questions arise or you run into any issues that may require a professional tax preparer. You should also make sure you’ve received all the necessary tax documents from your employers and banks before submitting your return. If you omit any of the necessary documentation, you’ll have to amend and resubmit your return.

In addition to federal taxes, many states also collect income tax. State taxes require a separate return that can be filled out at the same time you’re preparing your federal tax return. Check the rules from your state’s Department of Revenue to determine if you need to file a state tax return and when that return is due.

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 or made available electronically 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 you receive your 1099 and 1098 forms on time. If you prefer 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 fill out the forms yourself or you can turn to a Certified Public Accountant (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, filing independently for the first time, or own a small business or several rental properties or investments, your tax documents may be more complicated. In these situations, you may want to consult with a CPA or professional tax preparer to submit your return.

Will I get a refund? When will I receive my refund?

Not everyone receives a tax refund; it’s dependent on the amount of tax you paid throughout the year. If you paid less taxes throughout the year than what you owed, you’ll have to pay an additional amount to make up the difference.

However, if you paid more throughout the year than what you owed, you will qualify for a refund. You may also receive a refund by qualifying for a refundable credit.

The IRS states the normal processing time for refunds on tax returns submitted electronically is 21 days; however, some returns may require additional review that could result in a delay.

After you’ve submitted your return, you can check the status of your refund at Where’s My Refund.

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.

Taxes can be overwhelming if you’re rushing to get them done. Make sure you’ve set aside time to get them done before the deadline, and seek the advice of a tax professional if needed.

Bankers Trust and its affiliates and their representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. You should consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your unique situation and needs.

Bankers Trust

Bankers Trust

As Iowa’s largest privately owned bank, Bankers Trust serves the personal and business banking, lending and wealth management needs of our community. Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, we serve Central Iowa, Eastern Iowa, and Phoenix, Ariz., and we have offices in Omaha, Neb., and Sioux Falls, S.D.

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