Trying to figure out how to file your taxes can be extremely frustrating if you’ve never done it before. In many cases, doing taxes may actually get you a refund. This happens when too many taxes are being withheld from your paycheck throughout the year, and the government will ensure that you’ll receive that money back. Not filing your information, however, means you won’t receive that money and opens you up to more serious investigation from the IRS.

Keep in mind that you should pay any taxes owed right away. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself paying a lot more in interest in the future. To avoid stressful situations when filing for the first time, simply fill out your taxes by following this beginner’s guide to doing taxes:

Collect the Necessary Paperwork

To file your taxes, you’ll need to collect a few documents. The most important among these are the W-2 forms from your employers, but you may can also need certain receipts, canceled checks, and other financial records.

Having these documents on hand is very important so you can accurately record your yearly income and claim the correct deductions. It’s best to keep this information in an organized filing cabinet for at least three years, according to the IRS – longer if you file a claim for a loss.

File Your Tax Return

You can fill out your tax return information in several ways.  Among the easiest options is to file online using sites such as TurboTax or TaxAct. The IRS also offers an option called Free File. These forms are usually pretty self-explanatory, with the site asking you questions and, based on your answers, generating the tax document you need and help you fill it out.

If you’re worried about filling something out wrong, though, you could also hire a professional to do your taxes for you.

Ask Questions

If you’re not sure how to fill out a section on your tax return form, ask questions. You wouldn’t want to guess and write down the wrong information. You might not see the repercussions immediately, but you could have to pay more money down the road.

The best place to ask a question would probably be the actual IRS website. There is an Interactive Tax Assistant tool you can utilize to gain information. Another option would be to talk to someone you know who’s been filling out this information for a long time, like your parents – they should have a good idea of how to file everything.

Pay On Time

Start filing your taxes early, if you can. Turning documents in late will result in a penalty. If you do not think you’ll be able to get your information in on time, then try requesting an extension.

Paying any money you owe at this time is also important. If you do not think you’ll have enough money to pay your taxes, then you may need to consider getting a loan or signing an installment agreement to make monthly payments on your debt.

The next time you need to file your taxes, keep these tips in mind so you can fill everything out right the first time.

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