Whether you have just reached adulthood, or are a new resident in America, the first time you file your income tax return can be a daunting experience. Here are some tips to help you through the process.
Do I even need to file a tax return?
It’s possible that if your income is below a certain amount, you will not need to file an income tax return. However, if you want to claim any refundable tax credits, or get a refund for any income tax withheld from your paycheck, you must file a tax return.
Make sure you have all your tax documents
Before you start, make sure you have all your tax documents ready. These can include:
- W-2 (Wage and Tax Statement)
- 1099 (Income other than employment income)
- Educational expenses
- Supporting documents such as receipts
What forms you need will depend on your individual circumstances, so think about things that could impact taxes like any change in your job, selling stocks or other investments, opening retirement accounts, or medical expenses.
Remember all your side income
If you have earned income from freelancing work like rideshare driving or deliveries, don’t forget to report that income on your tax return. You can often deduct expenses related to your work like maintenance costs to your car, insurance, supplies etc.
Claim all your relevant deductions and credits
Deductions and credits can lower the amount of tax you owe or increase your refund, but you must file and claim them to take advantage of these. Common deductions for first-time filers include:
- Education credits
- Student loan interest deductions
- Home office deductions for self-employed people
Choose how to file
There are many ways to submit your income tax return. You can go old-fashioned and file by paper through the post office, but if you want your refund quickly, you should consider filing online or having your taxes done by a tax preparation service.
At Georgen Scarborough Associates, PC, we provide various accounting and tax services to people in Virginia, Maryland, and District of Columbia (DC). We provide tax preparation services for individuals, families, estates and trusts, and other accounting services. If you need help or advice filing your tax return, please contact one of our tax preparation experts today.