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- Figure out the documents you’ll need, and as they arrive, keep them in one location.
- Remember that you might still be able to contribute to certain accounts.
- Don’t rush through your taxes — that’s an easy way to make costly mistakes.
At the start of a new year, one of my biggest financial goals is to take care of filing my taxes as soon as possible. I always feel that once I get that over with, I can take a big exhale and move on to other priorities I have with my spending, savings, and overall growth of my money.
While it can be a daunting task to sit down and get started sorting your taxes, it can feel like even more of a headache if you’re doing it on your own. If you’re wondering what to do now so you can save time, money, and stress when you file your return, here are a few tip from accountants that can help you do your own taxes this season.
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1. Figure out what documents you’ll need early
One of the first steps you can take, before even trying to work on your tax return, is to gather all of the documents you’ll need.
Certified public accountant Michelle Guissinger says that even if you’re not sure what tax documents you’re waiting on to prepare your tax return, make a list of all income you earned in the last year.
“This can be done by reviewing deposits to your bank account or by reviewing amounts received on a mobile payment app such as Venmo,” she says.
Most of these income sources should send you a tax document, but it’s hard to know when those will arrive. That’s why Guissinger recommends being proactive and getting a head start by listing out what income documents you should be expecting.
2. Keep your documents organized
If you’re going to take on the task of doing your taxes on your own, certified public accountant David Santini says the best thing you can do is to stay organized so you save time and limit stress.
Santini recommends storing W-2 forms that come in the mail in a folder and printing out the ones that come electronically. That way, they’re stored in one place. He also suggests downloading any tax documents or other forms that are only available online such as unemployment 1099-G forms, some investment 1099s, and tuition form 1098-T as soon as they are available.
Santini reminds people not to forget about donation receipts and request any donation summaries or donation acknowledgment forms from charitable donations made in 2022.
3. Make last-minute contributions
If you’re scrambling to find ways to lower your potential tax bill, Guissinger says to remember you still have options of things you can do that will impact your 2022 tax return, even though it’s already a new year.
However, Guissinger recommends confirming your eligibility for these accounts before making last-minute contributions.
4. Consider taking the standard deduction
When you begin to start preparing your tax return, Guissinger says you can save time and money by deducting the standard deduction if you believe that will lower your tax bill more than doing itemized deductions.
“A significant portion of taxpayers will take the standard deduction, which is around $12,950 in most cases, and then won’t need to spend time compiling personal deductions such as medical expenses and charitable contributions,” she says.
5. Don’t rush through your taxes
While filing taxes can seem complicated, certified public account Michael Raiken says to take the entire process as slowly as you need to.
“Follow each line item for the IRS instructions closely and remember to include all schedules,” Raiken says. “Also, some programs may ask questions that need follow-up to show up properly on the return.”
Before you submit the tax return, Raiken shares that it’s important to review the return itself and not just the input screens, as sometimes if you answer a question without marking a certain box, the item could appear in the wrong place.