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How to file your federal income taxes online

Most Americans dread filing their income taxes every year, even as it has become easier and easier to file taxes online.

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The IRS would prefer that you file taxes online rather than mailing in the tax forms. It improves accuracy (because e-filing software is programmed to catch many common errors), saves paper and postage, and guarantees quicker processing and a quicker tax refund. To this end, the IRS has instituted a program called FreeFile that allows eligible taxpayers to file taxes online.

As the name indicates, this service is free, if you qualify by having an income under $57,000. If you know your way around a tax form, however, you can just file taxes online without using the “interview” format of the tax preparation program, based on your marginal income tax bracket. Whether you use FreeFile or another filing program, there is some basic information you will need to have nearby to file taxes online.

As indicated by the name of the tax, the IRS is primarily interested in your income. Have all your W-2 forms that employers have provided you with, as well as information on any self-employment income (if applicable) before you begin to file taxes online. If you are self-employed, keep in mind that you will be able to deduct things like work vehicle mileage and home office repairs.

If you are lucky enough to have income from lottery winnings or gambling, get an income statement from the lottery authority or casino. If you have pension or annuity income, or income from a trust or partnership, you should have accurate records on these as well before you attempt to file taxes online. The next important step is your tax deductions. If you want to claim the Child Tax Credit, or claim your children or spouse as dependents when you file taxes online, you will need the Social Security Numbers of your children and spouse, as well as the Social Security number of your child care provider.

If you are paying mortgage interest or student loan interest, you will definitely want to take advantage of being able to deduct these expenses, and you should have the relevant interest statements on-hand. These are only a few of the deductions that you can claim when you file taxes online. There are also many tax credits to be aware of. Make sure all the fields you fill-in are accurate, and save the tax program’s confirmation receipt as proof of filing.


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