Are you a first time tax filer looking for free tax advice?

January 16, 2014 by Eric Linden

Taxes! Usually, this word creates a strong emotive reaction in folks. We older people tend to not remember the days back when we first filed our very first 1040 EZ with the IRS. Since then it has been a blur of life: Homes, children, college tuition, stocks, careers and the like. As we move through life, it gets a bit more complex than when we were just sacking groceries at the local King’s IGA. But let us focus on the early days. When life was simple and stress was what outfit you planned on wearing that day. Are you filing taxes for the very first time? Are you self-filing as well? Keep these things in mind when you are settling in to file your first return:

  • Determine if you have to report your income at all. 
    Your bag-person salary at the local mart may not be enough to be on the IRS radar. Keep in mind, there may be refundable credits available to you, such as Earned Income Taxes or American Opportunity Credit.
  • Take a look at Deductions.
    Keep those receipts you usually find crumpled up in your trousers after a good drying in the Maytag, and find out if any of your expenses are deductible (yes, you’ll need to put a little bit of time into this if you want to do it right). If they are deductible, determine whether or not you should itemize.
  • Make sure you have all your W-2’s
    You cannot file until you have a W-2 – or all the necessary info at least - from each employer. There are many other source documents such as forms for bank interest and dividends.
  • Stay Calm Folks!
    Taxes will be a yearly part of your life going forward so enjoy all the fruits of taxation… city parks, schools, sports stadiums, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Take the time to enjoy your youth and the simple days of life.  As you build your assets (and we hope you do build some assets), your tax situation will surely get more complicated. In addition, your audit risk may be lower at this stage in life as there are less audit triggers due to simplicity of the return (CAUTION, do not bet the farm on not being audited with the simplest form!). Make sure you are getting tax advice from sound professionals. There is a lot of information located on the web now and a simple Google search will render an infinite number of articles. Know the source of this information and do your homework – or better yet, take advantage of all the tax tips and info we have right here on our website. I was lucky when I was a young bagboy at the local grocery mart. My mother is a part time tax professional. Although she is not a tax lawyer, she is my personal tax help line. Even if you may not be so lucky, with a little research, patience, and attention to detail you can file your first return with success.

NOTE: Eric Linden is just a wily tax blogger and not a trained tax professional. Please see a trained tax professional for any tax advice. 

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