There's a lot that's expected of you once you're an adult, not the least of which involves your tax duties. There's also an excellent chance that you don't know what to expect when it comes time to prepare your first tax return. What do you do, then, when your annual filing task rears its ugly head for the first of many times to come?
The best thing you can do when it comes to handling your taxes – as with most things in life – is to be prepared. Know ahead of time what you're in for when it comes time to file and how long you'll need to get it right. Understanding a few tax basics can help you start out on the right foot and avoid forming some unhealthy habits.
There may be no task more important when it comes to your taxes than filing your return. Since you're just starting out, you might want to ask a parent, family member or even a tax professional to help show you how it's done. While you'll find a number of easy-to-follow tutorials online, a personal touch can help important filing info to stick (remember, you've got to do this again next year). It's also good to get some one-on-one help because this affords you a second pair of eyes to look over your return details. This will help prevent any errors, which brings us to your next area of focus.
Getting your return prepared and turned in is definitely your first priority. Getting it right is a close second. Chances are, your income information at this stage in life is pretty straightforward. If you're working one job, there really won't be much to getting the numbers right. Where it may get complicated is if you're attending school, living at home and working all at the same time. If your parents are still claiming you on their return and college tax credits are involved, you'll want to suggest that you (and they) get professional tax assistance. Once this is done, just make sure you get your return filed by the deadline. If you miss it, the IRS may hit you with a penalty.
When you're learning something new, some people – even those you trust – will give you bad information. When it comes to taxes, there are plenty of hazards to avoid. Don't be afraid to question suggestions made to assist you in your filing adventures if they seem off. The internet can actually be helpful in this respect, particularly when you're trying to separate good advice from bad. In the end, you may be better off visiting with a licensed tax professional to avoid a future problem with the IRS.
No matter how prepared you are when you file for the first time, you may end up making a mistake. The reality is even the most seasoned taxpayers foul up their returns from time to time. If you do turn in a return with an error, the IRS will send you a notice to tell you about it. They will also explain what you need to do to correct the issue and how much time you have. Here again, a tax professional is a good friend to have for just such an occasion. You can request a consultation to get more information about your tax problem and how to get it resolved; this should come at no cost. Remember, there's nothing wrong with making a first-time mistake as long as you get the information you need so you don't repeat it.