What are the Best Tax Return Preparation Tips?

Misty Amber Brighton

People interested in doing their own tax returns will undoubtedly face many challenges. These can be easily overcome by researching recent changes in the tax law. It can also be helpful to obtain an updated copy of any tax return preparation software that may have been used in the past. Gathering all the needed documents and reading them over before beginning the return is also important. Allowing plenty of time to complete the return and minimizing distractions can also be helpful.

Most regular employees in the US need a W-2 to complete their tax returns.
Most regular employees in the US need a W-2 to complete their tax returns.

Tax laws vary greatly from one area to the next. They are also constantly changing, so deductions that were allowed in previous years may not be permitted in the current year. Before beginning a tax return, individuals should check with the revenue agency over their jurisdiction to see how the laws may have changed. It can also be a good idea for people who have never completed a return before to take a tax preparation course.

Tax return preparation software is constantly being updated. This means taxpayers should check any software they may have used in the past to ensure it is the most current edition available. Using old programs could cause people to figure the amount of tax they owe inaccurately, or miss deductions that were not previously available.

Gathering all the necessary documentation is an important step in tax return preparation. A software program often provides a list of documents for users to gather. Preparers should make sure to have all the documents they need and be sure they can read and understand them. It can be a good idea to highlight certain things on this paperwork so it can be found quickly when it is ready to be entered on the return.

Tax return preparation can be a time-consuming process. Allowing plenty of time is essential, especially for people who have never completed a tax return before. People should go to a quiet area away from other family members if possible.

Doing a tax return can be difficult, especially for those who live in an area with complicated tax laws or have several deductions to itemize. Even so, hiring a tax return preparer to do this can be very expensive. Individuals who choose to forgo using a professional in favor of free tax return preparation should be sure to look the return over carefully before submitting it. In most areas, the preparer is responsible for any mistakes on this document, and could be assessed penalties or fines as a result.

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