How to File Taxes

If you are employed at all throughout the year, you must file taxes in the spring following the year you worked.  Taxes can be complicated, as they are looking at all of the income and expenses you had in a given year.

There are two kinds of taxes you will need to file annually, federal and state income tax.  Every year, you must have your taxes completed by April 15th in order to avoid paying a penalty or interest.  After completing your taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will determine if you are to receive a refund (getting money back) or if you owe additional fees (if you didn’t pay enough taxes on income throughout the year).  If you are to receive a refund, the IRS can either deposit the money directly into your bank account, or they can send you a refund check within a few weeks after filing.  If you owe money, you can contact the IRS to either pay all at once or set up a payment plan for the balance.

Steps to file your taxes:

  1. Find out if you have to file: if your total income for the year is below the minimum gross income level ($10,150 for 2015) then you do not have to file.  If you made more than that, then you must file a tax return
  2. Gather all documents you will need, including:
  3. W-2.  Make sure you have one from every employer you had for the previous year.  Make sure previous employers have your most current address so you can receive documents on time
  4. 1099 forms
  5. 1098 forms (for tuition and student loan interest paid
  6. Total amount of miscellaneous earnings (scholarships, medical savings accounts, gambling winnings)
  7. Itemized deductions (child care, education expenses, extensive medical bills, or other personal expenses that can be deducted)

Decide how you are going to do your taxes:

  • Having your taxes prepared by a professional at a company like H&R Block can be beneficial because a professional will be able to maximize your refund, however it can be more expensive as they usually charge a fee
  • If doing your taxes yourself, find a site or program to help you prepare your return.  Follow the directions step by step, filling in information from your W2 and other forms where necessary
  • You must complete two returns: one for federal and one for state (if there is income tax in the state you live in)
  • Once all returns are completed, you will be notified if you will receive a refund, or if you owe money for that year to the IRS
  • It is extremely important to make sure you complete your tax return by April 15th.  If you cannot complete by that deadline, you can file for an extension with the IRS.  For any questions about taxes, visit the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov