Know your income bracket and file online quickly and easily.
If you are over the age of 18 and not a dependent of someone else, you’re required to file a tax return each year by April 15th. These days, most taxpayers can file their own taxes online with step-by-step guidance along the way.
How do I submit my tax return online?
If your taxes aren’t too complex, you may be able to file your taxes for free through tax return software or directly with the government. More complicated involving multiple deductions or credits may require a fee.
Step 1: Choose an online provider to file with.
Most brand-name tax return software offer a free e-file version for simple taxes using Form 1040. If you own multiple assets, can claim deductions or credits or are filing taxes for your business, you’ll want to be sure the software can handle your needs.
The US government offers a free and easy way to file your federal tax return online through Free File. But you won’t receive guidance or instruction, so you’ll want to be sure you’re comfortable with your tax knowledge before choosing it.
Step 2. Sign up and begin your returns.
H&R Block, TurboTax and similar tax services walk you through each step of the process, showing you exactly how to fill out the various form fields. Prompts also cover life events and how they are incorporated into your return, such as buying a house or car.
Step 3. Double-check everything before you submit.
Most services scan your return to alert you of discrepancies or red flags that you might need to address before submitting your taxes. Once you’re ready, the service submits your forms to the IRS, forwarding tracking information on how to check in on your return.
What services can help me file my taxes online?
Your taxes generally depend on how much you earn and how much you paid in taxes throughout the year, either deducted from your paycheck or paid quarterly, if you’re an independent contractor.
Deductions and credits can chip away at how much the government gets to keep — and how much you’re able to keep in your own pocket. Let the $2,895 average individual tax refund for 2017 inspire you to suss out your qualified deductions.
Should I DIY or get professional help?
DIY doesn’t mean you’ll go without professional help. Many online tax providers allow you to file your taxes with the support of helpful prompts and guidance designed to get you the most out of your return.
Ultimately, your best route depends on how you’re able to answer three key questions:
- How complicated is your tax return? Even if you’ve had a major life event, such as having a baby or buying a house, tax software should be able to walk you through it. But if you own many assets, bought or sold multiple investments or just don’t have time to go through the related paperwork, the personal attention of an accountant may be what you need.
- What’s your budget for fees? Fees can vary from low flat rates to those based on a tiered scale, sometimes running up to $100 or more. But an online tax preparer can make the fee worth it by saving you more on your tax return.
- How confident are you to do it yourself? Tax regulations are always changing, and the IRS regularly audits returns for compliance. A reputable online tax service can make sure you aren’t claiming anything you’re not eligible for. And they may even step in if the IRS does come a-knocking.
Which type of return is best for me?
You should know based on your income and circumstances which category you fall into. But here’s a breakdown of the types of returns you may read about:
- Individual tax returns. A common return for people who are employed and earn an income, including those who are self-employed or contractors.
- Partnership tax returns. Returns for businesses in a partnership structure.
- Company tax returns. Returns for private companies that employ more than two people.
- Trust tax returns. Returns typically submitted by trustees to satisfy different tax regulations and rates.
- Corporate tax returns. Returns filed by listed companies on a stock exchange and audited by a third party.
If you’re filing on behalf of a business or company, consider seeking professional advice to avoid running into trouble with the IRS.
When do I need to file my tax return?
The standard deadline for filing your tax return is April 15. If that date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the deadline is delayed to the next business day.
If you need more time to prepare your return, you can request an extension. More than 14 million taxpayers filed for an extension in 2018.
To get a six-month extension, you must file IRS Form 4868 by April 15. This gives you extra time to file your return, but not extra time to pay your taxes. If you end up owing taxes and pay past April 15, you might be subject to a late penalty fee.