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    Ask This When Before Filing Taxes

    Filing taxes is a frustrating endeavor for many folks because of how they're filled with confusing wording and even more confusing instructions. Unfortunately, many people who try to file their taxes themselves end up making mistakes, and not getting back the hard-earned tax dollars that they deserve. It’s also pretty easy to make the kind of mistakes that can send the IRS a red flag, like forgetting to file your taxes, making unusual deductions, or simply imputing the wrong information and therefore being dishonest, even if that wasn’t your intention. With electric filing today, we can easily take strides to avoid those mistakes by investing a nominal fee in a service that can do all the heavy legwork for us with easy-to-use technology and step-by-step instructions. The top-rated online tax return service that everyone's jumping to use for this year's tax return is TurboTax. Because of great e-filing sites like TurboTax, filing taxes has become significantly less stressful. It’s a great way to save money, save time, and save all that unnecessary stress for another day. The whole purpose of e-filing is to make filing tax returns easy enough to compete from the comfort of your own home, which is why it’s so worth doing. Here are some great questions you should be asking yourself before getting started with this year's tax filing, regardless of whether you choose to make the leap to e-filing or not:

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    Which tax forms do I need to fill out?
    The more complex your finances are, the more forms you'll need to fill out at tax time. Knowing which forms you'll need isn't always easy. In case the IRS comes knocking, this is something you need to lock down. If you're not sure exactly which forms should be included in your tax return, then your best bet may be contacting an accountant or tax preparer. You can also try a tax filing program which can automatically provide you with the properly completed forms.
    How many W-2 forms do I need to file with my taxes?
    If you have multiple sources of employment, the thing you'll need to make sure you understand is your tax liabilities. Make sure you get the proper forms from each place of job employment over the last year. The number of forms you receive should be equal to the number of jobs you had.
    When are my taxes officially due?
    Taxes are usually due in the second week of April, on the 15th. While this is the deadline, that doesn't mean it's hard and fast, as you can often get an extension of you can't meet that deadline. Be aware that you may be required to pay estimated quarterly taxes if you have self-employment or contract income.
    Does this tax preparer offer second opinion services?
    Many places now offer a second opinion service that will go through your return and make sure you get everything that is coming back to you. Often they will only charge if they find something you or your online service missed. 
    Do I file taxes single? Jointly? Or with dependents?
    If you are filing a joint return, there can be several advantages: you can save money, you can make use of several federal laws that allow more deductions and if you have dependents, you can save even more. That said, you cannot file taxes jointly if you are not legally joined with another person in marriage or another binding contract by law.  That doesn't mean you need to go out and get married right at this moment... but it certainly makes for a compelling argument with your partner in taking your relationship to the next level!
    Should I do my own taxes?
    Doing your own taxes will depend really on what your tax situation and liability is. If you have a complicated tax picture, such as multiple jobs over the year, moving from state to state, own a business or have shared custody or other family issues that may involve tax difficulties, it may help to consult a professional. If not too complicated, you might be able to take advantage of the different online programs or software that can help you to complete your taxes.
    Which tax program is the best?
    Each program offers pretty much the same service: doing your taxes. It's the other things they offer that can sweeten the deal, plus whether the cost will fit into your budget. What are your needs? What would you like the service to do for you? How much will it cost you and is the cost worth the services offered? Check the list each service offers against their cost, and especially the reliability of the service. Do they stand behind their service? Will they go to bat for you in case you're audited? Each of these questions should be answered before you make your final decision. 
    How do I report my business income on my tax return?
    If you own a business, than you probably have an accountant or accounting service that can be of help in either filing your taxes or advising on them. As business tax law will be more difficult, with more potential problems than an individual account, seeking advise on your tax liability would be a good move.