File Your Taxes The Right Way

Updated: May 10, 2018

Filing your taxes does not need to be taxing. Really. For most Americans, it can be completed in a few hours or less.

Before you get started, you’ll need to get tax forms from your employer(s), bank(s), brokerage(s), and more. Without proper forms, you can’t do your taxes. Here is a list of the most common ones:

  • W2: covers income, withholding, etc. from your employer

  • 1098: covers mortgage interest paid, over $600.

  • 1098-T: higher education expenses paid.

  • 1098-E: student loan interest paid.

  • 1099-MISC: miscellaneous income exceeding $600 from any one source (i.e. freelance or consulting.

  • 1099-INT: taxable interest exceeding $10, typically from a savings, checking, CD, or money market bank account.

How Should I File my Taxes?

E-filing is the quicker, safer, and more reliable way to file There are many cheap or free ways to e-file. My favorite either online or the tax software programs is H&R Block.

Should I Take the Standard Deduction or Itemize My Taxes?

It’s easy to figure out! Enter all of your expected tax credits or deductions, let the program run the numbers to see if itemizing your taxes could result in a lower tax obligation for you versus a standard deduction. If your itemized deductions don’t surpass those amounts, the standard deduction is the way to go (and it’s simpler).

The Most Popular Tax Deductions and Credits

If you did any of the during 2017, it could impact your return:

  • If you made home energy efficiency improvements? You could qualify for a energy tax credit.

  • Pay interest on a mortgage or property tax? Both are deductible.

  • If you have earned income below certain levels, you might be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

  • If you sold investments at a loss and those losses were greater than your gains, you could claim a capital loss tax deduction.

  • Have a child this year or act as guardian for at least half a year? You could claim a child tax credit.

  • Have self-employment income? You may be able to deduct business related expenses and your home office

  • Pay tuition or have other education related expenses? There are education tax credits and deductions that you can claim.

  • Make charitable donations? You can deduct them. Note that there is a IRS maximum charitable donation limit, which is based off your income level and what type of organization you contribute to.

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Disclaimer: The content on this site is provided for information and discussion purposes only. It is not intended to be professional financial advice and should not be the sole basis for your investment, financial or tax planning decisions. Under no circumstances does this information represent a recommendation to buy or sell securities, or any other products, or services. All content and information is subject to change at anytime.