What does it mean when you "do your taxes"?
“Doing your taxes” in the United States involves collecting the information on all the income you (and your spouse and dependents) have earned in the past year and supplying that information to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and other local tax authorities from the state or even city if required.Preparing your taxes will determine what you may owe in taxes, or what rebates you may be entitled to. There are individual (personal) tax returns as well as business tax returns. There are also some others such as estate returns.The money gathered by taxes is used by the government to pay for the services and programs sponsored by the government for it’s citizens.Nobody likes to pay taxes, but nobody likes cuts in services either. The congress votes on how to spend the money. They fight a lot. Sometimes if they can’t agree, the budgeted money starts to run out, and the government can begin to shut down. People don’t get paid who perform services for the government. Some are furloughed, and others who are considered essential, have to work with no pay.President Trump recently shut down the government for the longest time in history because he wanted money to build his wall. Congress refused. Finally the President accepted the budget that was proposed by congress, and government employees started to get paid again.Below is more info directly from the Official Guide to Government Information and Services | USAGov website.How to File Your Federal TaxesTaxes are due on April 15, 2021 (April 17 in Maine and Massachusetts). The new tax law has changed many forms, credits, and deductions. Check this page carefully before filing your federal income tax return.Infographic: Tax Reform - Big Changes to Credits and Deductions for 2018Learn the changes that affect you and your family under the tax reform law.View a larger version of the infographic.Show Description of InfographicFile a Federal Income Tax ReturnThe federal government uses taxes to pay its bills and prpublic goods and services. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects the taxes you owe through withholding from your paycheck, estimated tax payments, and when you file your taxes each year.Do I Need to File?You may not have to file a federal income tax return if your income is below a certain amount. However, you must file a tax return to claim a refundable tax credit or a refund on income tax withheld. Find out if you have to file a tax return.Follow These Steps to File a Tax ReturnNote: The new tax law has changed the forms, credits, and deductions you may have used in the past. Learn the basics of the tax law changes.Gather your paperwork, includingA W-2 form from each employerOther earning and interest statements (1099 and 1099-INT forms)Proof of health insurance coverageReceipts for charitable donations, medical, and business expensesChoose your filing status - Whether you’re married and the percentage you pay for household expenses determine your filing status.See if you qualify for free tax return preparation - The IRS offers free tax help to people with a low income, military service members and their families, people with disabilities, seniors, and taxpayers with limited English.Decide how you want to file your taxes - The IRS recommends using tax preparation software for easiest and most accurate returns. You can use free or paid programs to calculate and file your taxes online or get paper forms to mail to the IRS. You can also hire a tax preparer to do your taxes for you.Calculate your taxes, credits, and deductions - Tax law changes may impact your credits and deductions and the taxes you owe.Add up your sources of income, including salary, interest and investment earnings, and pension or retirement accounts.Check if you are eligible for education, family, and dependent credits for a qualifying child or relative.You may also qualify for deductions for things like mortgage interest or charitable donations. Credits and deductions can lower the amount of your taxable income. But keep in mind, while the IRS has increased the standard deduction for tax year 2021. it eliminated some other types of deductions.If you owe money, learn how to make a tax payment, including applying for a payment plan.File your taxes by April 15, 2021 (April 17 in Maine and Massachusetts).Find out how to check the status of your tax refund.Contacting the IRSFor the fastest information, the IRS recommends finding answers to your questions online. You can also call the IRS. This option works best for less complex questions. Keep in mind that wait times to speak with a representative may be long.Do I Need to Pay Quarterly Estimated Taxes?If you’re self-employed, not enough tax is taken out of your salary or pension, or you have other earnings such as alimony, interest, or dividends, you may need to pay quarterly estimated taxes. Learn how to calculate your estimated taxes, when they’re due, and the penalty for underpaying.IRS Mailing AddressesThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides mailing addresses for tax returns, non-return forms, applications, and payments. The correct mailing address to use depends on the purpose of contact and the region of the country you are in:Paper Tax Returns (with or without a payment)Non-Return Forms (applications and payments)You can also check a form's corresponding instructions for a mailing address.Get Tax Forms and PublicationsFederal Tax FormsFederal tax forms have changed as a result of the new tax law. Get the new forms, instructions, and publications for free directly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).Download them from IRS.govOrder by phone at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676)The IRS can prmany forms and publications in accessible formats, including Section 508 accessible PDFs and Braille or text. They also have forms for prior tax years.You can find the new tax forms in your community for free atPost officesLibrariesIRS Taxpayer Assistance CentersState Tax FormsDownload your state's tax forms and instructions for free.Tax Filing DeadlinesThe Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began accepting and processing federal tax returns for tax year 2021 on January 28, 2021. The deadline to file federal taxes for most taxpayers is April 15, 2021. unless you file for an extension. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, you have until April 17, 2021. to complete your return.Federal and state taxes usually have the same filing deadlines. Find out the tax filing due dates in your state. If you do not file and pay your taxes on time, you will be charged interest and a late payment penalty. For taxpayers due a refund, there is no penalty for filing a late return.Tax Filing and Payment HelpLearn how to file a federal income tax return.File online or find the address for mailing your paper return. To find out how to mail your tax return, get tips and information from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).Explore free online tools from the IRS and special programs for qualifying taxpayers.Learn about your payment options if you owe money. If the IRS owes you money, you can choose to receive your tax refund by direct deposit, U.S. Series I Savings Bonds, or paper check.Extension to File Your Tax ReturnIf you are unable to file your federal income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get an extension from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This does not grant you more time to pay your taxes.You may be able to get an automatic six-month extension to file your return. To do so, you must file IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF, Download Form 1040 A Instructions Reader) by the due date for filing your calendar year return (usually April 15) or fiscal year return. For a Spanish version of this form, download IRS Form 4868sp (PDF, Download Form 1040 A Instructions Reader).Special rules may apply if you are:Living outside the United StatesOut of the country when your six-month extension expiresLiving in a combat zone or a qualified hazardous areaGet tax filing information, including guidelines on extensions of time to file.Get Your W-2 Before Tax TimeThe Wage and Tax Statement, known as a W-2 form, is an important document to have at tax time. This form shows the income you earned for the year and the taxes withheld from those earnings. If you have had several jobs over the year, you may have several W-2 forms to file your tax return. Employers must send you your W-2 by January 31 for the earnings from the previous calendar year of work.The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers advice on what to do if you were an employee and haven't received your W-2by January 31 or if the information is incorrect. Employers that have questions about filing W-2 forms for employees can check these resources on where, when, and how to file from the IRS.For more information, contact the IRS. Wait times to speak with a representative may be long.1099 Income StatementsBusinesses and government agencies use Form 1099 to report various types of income other than wages, salaries, and tips to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).Common types of Form 1099 include1099-MISC for contracting and freelance work, gambling and prize winnings, and more1099-INT for bank account interest1099-DIV for investment distributions and dividends1099-R for retirement account distributions from 401(k) accounts, IRAs, Thrift Savings Plans, annuities, and pensions1099-S for real estate sales incomeEvery business or agency mustComplete a Form 1099 for each transactionRetain a copy for its recordsSend a copy to you and to the IRS. You should have received your copy by early February (or mid-February for Form 1099-B).You must include this income on your federal tax return.Incorrect or Missing Form 1099If you do not agree with the information contained in your Form 1099, contact the business or federal agency that issued it.If you did not receive your Form 1099, contact the business or federal agency that should have issued it.Contact the IRSIf you requested Form 1099 from a business or agency and did not receive it, contact the IRS. Wait times to speak with a representative may be long.Check Your Tax WithholdingWithholding is the amount of income tax your employer pays on your behalf from your paycheck. Keep in mind, the new tax law has changed tax rates, credits, and deductions, and could affect your withholding. If you don’t withhold enough tax, you could face a penalty.Use the IRS Withholding Calculator to eyour 2021 income tax and compare it with your current withholding. You’ll need your most recent pay stubs and income tax return.The results from the calculator can help you figure out if you need to fill out a new Form W-4 (PDF, Download Form 1040 A Instructions Reader) for your employer or make an estimated tax payment to the IRS before the end of the year.Filing Tax Returns When Living AbroadWho FilesU.S. citizens or resident aliens (Green Card holders) living abroad must pay U.S. income tax on their worldwide income.The rules for filing tax returns, paying estimated taxes, or estate taxes are generally the same whether you are in the U.S. or abroad. Get information for taxpayers living abroad.How to FileAs a resident alien or U.S. citizen living abroad, you can use the same forms (1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) as people living in the U.S. to file your taxes.The amounts you report on your U.S. tax return must be in U.S. dollars. Learn more about filing requirements.When to FileAs a taxpayer living outside the U.S., you are allowed a two-month extension. Get more information about your filing date.Learn more about the rules for getting a two-month extension.Where to FileIf you’re living outside the U.S., you can mail your return or use e-file.Learn where to mail your return if you are expecting a refund or if you owe money to the IRS.Where to Get Tax Preparation Help While Living AbroadTaxpayer service is no longer available at foreign posts of duty. Instead, use the International Taxpayer Service Call Center.Find More Resources for Taxpayers Living AbroadUse the list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about international individual tax matters or search by international tax topic.Find a list of tax FAQs especially for resident aliens.Use the international taxpayers interactive tools for general tax questions.If you owe money to the IRS but do not have a U.S. bank account to send a check, you may be able to use a debit or credit card.Nonresidents Filing Tax Returns in the U.S.Who FilesYou will need to file a U.S. tax return depending on your:Source of U.S. incomeTax filing statusReview this list of five situations to learn more about who must file.How to FileYou will need an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) or Social Security number (SSN). The IRS will issue an ITIN if a foreign national is not eligible for an SSN for tax reporting purposes. Learn more about getting an ITIN for federal tax reporting.You can use form 1040NR to file a tax return.Review the specific filing requirements if you are a foreign exchange student or visiting scholar.If you are on a J-1 visa working as an au pair, you may need to file estimated taxes using form 1040ES-NR.If you can’t file your return by the due date, use form 4868.Find More ResourcesReview the tax treaty information between the U.S. and your country. In some cases, your taxable amount may be lower.If you are a foreign student, use this reference guide to learn more about the special rules that apply to your U.S. income including your liability for Social Security and Medicare taxes.Learn more from the most recent version of the U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.Do you need help?Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.Call USA.govChat with USA.govLast Updated: March 28, 2019;"";""