April—spring flowers are blooming, the weather feels fresh and crisp, summer travels are in the works(ish) … and (meep!) taxes are due. A daunting task people tend to put off until they are due due (April 18).
To help ease the process, we tapped Haley Sacks, the founder and brains behind @mrsdowjones, to share her tips for newbies doing taxes on their own for the first time in hopes to take some of the pressure off. We’ll let the financial pop star take it from here.
“So you want to do your own taxes! You can totallyyy do it, especially if you utilize the tips below. Yay!
But first, a word to the wise—when you Google search “how to file your taxes for free,” companies like TurboTax will come up first, but they’re NOT ACTUALLY FREE! They will upcharge you for everything. Like you know how at Chipotle, guac is extra? With TurboTax and other services, EVERYTHING is extra. Instead, use the IRS’s free resources. Their website is sadly not as cute as Poosh but is super helpful and will make it easy for you to file on your own, especially if you make under $73,000 a year. Happy filing, hunnies!
My top tips for people doing their taxes on their own for the first time:
The same way before you leave your house you make sure you have your phone, keys, lipgloss, and tiny perfume sample you stole from Sephora 10 years ago, when it comes to filing ~your taxes~ you best make sure you have all your documents too.
If you just work one job, you’ll just have one W-2. But if you work as an independent contractor or have any interest or dividend income, you might have multiple 1099s.
By law, most companies are required to have income statements such as W-2s and 1099s sent out by January 31. Wait for all of them to arrive before filing a damn thang.
2. Record scratch, freeze frame, know your filing status
The IRS offers five filing statuses. Choosing the correct one is très important because it could save you money.
Think carefully about who you’re connected to. Like if you’re unmarried but a child lives with you? Honey, you can claim a damn dependent. Don’t miss out!
Tax deductions reduce the portion of your overall income that you must pay taxes on. Tax credits, on the other hand, subtract directly from what you owe the IRS. Both are super important and can save you money, which ROCKS, so you wanna make sure to take advantage of them.
Here are some common tax deductions you may be eligible for:
- Education credits
- Student loan interest deduction
- Earned income credit
- Home office deduction if you’re self-employed
OH and there’s something called a STANDARD DEDUCTION that is a specified amount the IRS lets you subtract from your income that varies according to your filing status. Don’t miss out on that either.
4. Don’t hide your income lol
I know you wanna keep your side hustle money to yourself, but if you’ve earned income from freelancing, don’t forget to report that on your tax return too! If you made over $600, you need a 1099 from that business bb.
Filing taxes is something you get to do every year so you’re gonna get really good at it lol! This is your first time. So you may not feel confident filing but don’t worry—if a mistake happens, you can always file an amended tax return. You have up to 3 years after you file (generally) to correct your mistake.
Up next, be the first to know our weekly content and sign up for our Poosh newsletter.