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The deadline to file taxes is quickly approaching for most taxpayers throughout the country. Taxpayers may decide to do their own taxes using online software or simple filing forms, while others opt to hire a tax professional.  Whether you plan to file yourself or choose to work with a tax preparer, Tax Day, April 19, 2022 is right around the corner. 

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over 81 million federal income tax returns were submitted as of March 25.  This year the IRS estimates that it will receive nearly 161 million returns for the 2021 tax season.  If you are one of the almost 80 million individuals with an outstanding return, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiled useful information and the below tips to help you meet this year’s filing deadline.

First, know what information and documents you need to have prepared in order to file by following these steps:

1. Compile all your important standard tax documents. Generally, you should have received all necessary documents to file taxes from your employers, financial institutions, and insurance companies at the beginning of the year.  The standard documents to gather are:

  • W-2 which outlines income as well as taxes withheld for full-time employees;
  • 1099-NEC for freelance or contracted work;
  • 1099-DIV for dividends, 1099-INT for investments and, 1098-E for student loans; and 1098-T for college students or dependents who are students which shows tuition, grants and fellowships.

2. Consider all additional paperwork and documents that you may need. When you are ready to file, whether you are doing so on your own or with a professional, it is recommended to have additional paperwork or records readily available.  These suggested items include:

  • Receipts to donations, work costs, and medical bills;
  • Statements from loans and/or grants;
  • Mortgage interest payments;
  • Last year’s tax returns;
  • Income from rental properties; and
  • Child tax credits.

3. Identify which tax credits or deductions you qualify for.  Put together the documentation or supporting information related to these credits and deductions. Some of the most common deductions are:

  • Saver’s credit for nondependent students who pay into a retirement plan, or joint married couples who make less than $68,000 and for singles less than $34,000;
  • Freelance expenses (self-employed- work related costs);
  • Student loan interests; and
  • Charitable donations.

After compiling all your tax documents, decide how you plan on filing based off your tax status and personal situations, and give yourself enough time to do so when picking one of the following ways to file:

  • Free file: if your income is under a certain amount you can file for free with the IRS. This filing option offers tools to calculate deductions.
  • IRS online forms: if your income exceeds a specific amount based on your status, the IRS has forms that can do the calculations for you at a basic level. This option does not adjust for any deductions.
  • Tax preparation software: many paid third party services are available online and will help walk you through filing your taxes.  These services, depending on the package selected, provide for credits and deductions.
  • Tax preparer: more intricate filings often require a professional’s assistance.  Ensure you are working with a licensed and verified company or individual. The IRS has a list of trusted and verified tax preparers where you can make sure they have an IRS preparer tax identification number. You can also verify the status of a Massachusetts professional’s license using the Division of Occupational Licensure’s searchable database.

If you are unable to meet the filing deadline of April 19, it is important to consider requesting an extension prior to the deadline. If you submit a request for an extension, and it is approved, you will have until October 17 to submit your 2021 taxes.  

Visit the official IRS website for more information about filing, extensions, audits, or other tax related topics.  For more information about filing your state taxes in Massachusetts visit the Department of Revenue.

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