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How to File Taxes

Filing your taxes on an annual basis is a major part of everyone’s financial life. While the idea of filing might seem intimidating at first, there are many services and methods available to make doing so much easier. For instance, services like TurboTax and TaxSlayer walk you step by step through the filing process. For more help with your taxes and to start tax planning, consider working with a financial advisor.

What’s the Deadline for Filing Your Taxes?

The deadline for both state and federal taxes is April 15 of each year. That means the last day for taxes to be considered on time is April 15. If you know you’re not going to make the due date, you can file for an extension and buy yourself some extra time. Note that in both 2020 and 2021, the federal government temporarily pushed back this deadline to July 15 and May 17, respectively. However, beginning in 2022, the due date will revert back to April 15.

Taxes on property and money earned from investments may have separate tax filing deadlines. When you’re buying a home you should inquire as to how and when property taxes in your area are due. If you’re making a lot of money from investments you may be required to file quarterly tax estimates with the IRS. That means you pay four times a year instead of once a year.

The easiest way to make these estimated payments is with the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). You can hop online and make payments when it’s convenient for you throughout the quarter, as long as you pay enough by the end of the quarterly due date. If you’re mailing your payment instead of paying online, the date of the U.S. postmark is considered the date of payment. Keep that in mind or you risk late payment penalty charges.

For tax purposes, the quarters break down in the following way. From January 1 to March 31, the due date is April 15. For the tax period of April 1 to May 31, the due date is June 15. The due date for the tax period of June 1 to August 31 is September 15. Finally, for the tax period of September 1 to December 31, the due date is January 15 of the following year.

Ways to File Your Taxes

How to File Taxes

Are you ready for tax season? Will you be filing your taxes early, on time or late? Tax season starts on the first day that the IRS begins accepting tax returns. For 2022, tax returns are likely to start rolling in on February 12. Tax season dates extend from January through the April 15 deadline. Tax season is over after April 15, unless you’ve filed for an extension and your returns will be late.

Perhaps the easiest way to do your taxes is to pay a tax accountant to do them for you. These professionals will take all of your paperwork and put together a complete return that’s maximized for your situation. Of course, accountants do charge fees, though.

If you don’t want to shell out the money for an accountant, there are many online services available. For starters, if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $72,000 or less, you can use the IRS’ own Free File software. There are also companies that offer free and paid services, like TurboTax and H&R Block.

Many people choose to engage the service of an authorized e-file provider. The IRS maintains a searchable database of authorized e-file providers who can help you file your taxes for a relatively low cost. Tax professionals like certified public accountants (CPAs) and tax attorneys can be especially helpful for some filers. Meeting with a human for tax help can be useful if your tax situation is complex. It may also be worthwhile if you have questions specific to your situation.

Going Beyond Filing Your Taxes

Filing your taxes is obviously important, but in order to maximize your savings, you’ll need to do some planning. Tax planning may not seem like the most important venture on top of investing and retirement planning, but it can actually have a huge effect on those and other important financial goals. That’s because planning ahead for your taxes and mitigating what you owe will allow you to keep more money in your pocket for other things.

For instance, what if you saved $1,000 this year on your taxes. That money could go directly to your investment portfolio, or you could contribute it to your IRA. Either way, that money will do more good for you if it’s in your hands and not the IRS’.

Accountants often offer tax planning services, so ask around to see if anyone you know has an accountant they like. If you want a professional who can go beyond your taxes and help with investing and building a retirement fund, a financial advisor could be the better choice. Again, getting a recommendation from someone you trust is a great way to go. SmartAsset also offers a free financial advisor matching tool that can pair you with up to three advisors in your area.

Bottom Line

How to File Taxes

Between property taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes and, for some, small business taxes, one person can end up owing quite a bit to the IRS. Luckily, the payroll tax system lets us pre-pay our income taxes as withholding from our wages throughout the year. Without this withholding we’d get one giant bill every April. If you already feel like your tax bill is too high, you might be missing out on deductions and credits. Or, you might just be rich.

Tax Planning Tips

  • If you want to get the most benefit out of filing your taxes, consider working with a professional. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • During the months in between tax time, use SmartAsset’s paycheck calculator to get an idea of how much taxes will eat into your pay. Knowing this can help you build a budget and a financial plan.

Photo credit: © iStock/Ridofranz, © iStock/cagkansayin, © iStock/Kerkez

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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