Editor’s note: This content is provided by the Internal Revenue Service. Consult your financial or tax adviser regarding your individual situation.
It's that time of the year again. The income tax filing season has begun and important tax documents should be arriving in the mail. Even though your return is not due until April, getting an early start will make filing easier. Here are the Internal Revenue Service's top 10 tips that will help your tax filing process run smoother than ever this year.
1. Start gathering your records: Round up any documents or forms you'll need when filing your taxes: receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you're claiming on your return.
2. Be on the lookout: W-2s and 1099s will be coming soon; you'll need these to file your tax return.
3. Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. It's available exclusively at IRS.gov. Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free. If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit IRS.gov/freefile to review your options.
4. Try IRS e-file: After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers — 99 million people — used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. This is your chance to give it a try. IRS e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely. If you owe taxes, you have payment options to file immediately and pay by the tax deadline. Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days.