Know This About The New Federal Income Tax Form
The best way to prepare to do your taxes – or even get your taxes done – is to take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and start scrambling for your paperwork.
Your 2018 federal income tax return will be unlike much of what you’ve seen in the past. We’re looking at a wide array of major changes – and plenty of tripwires – under the new tax law.
But some sensible, first steps can help you fight the anxiety and tackle your taxes.
The tax deadline is April 15. The earliest the Internal Revenue Service will accept returns is Jan. 28.
Before you even think about trying to understand the new tax rules, though, try to remember what’s new in your own life. Did you have a baby in 2018? Buy a new house? Get a new job? Retire?
New things in your life last year could mean a whole new set of paperwork this year when it comes to your taxes. Here’s a quick to-do list:
1. Grab a copy of last year’s tax return
Sure, the tax rules changed dramatically and we’ve got a 1040 form with a new look.
But your old return for the 2017 tax year can be a road map for making sure you’ve gathered all the paperwork you need to file your 2018 tax return.
Maybe you took a new job in March or April? Do you have two W-2 forms? The one for your current job? And the W-2 you need from the old job you worked for a few months?
Cathy Anderson, owner of Anderson Financial Services in Fraser, said often tax filers only show up with one W-2 when they’ve changed jobs in a year. Some forget to look for the paperwork for the old job. You need it.
Your old 1040 might remind you that you still don’t have the latest 1099-DIV from a mutual fund to report dividends and capital gains. Or maybe you don’t have a 1099-INT from a bank account yet.
2. Find valid Social Security numbers, IDs
Make sure to have the accurate Social Security numbers for you and your spouse as well as your children. Did you have a baby in 2018? You need the newborn’s Social Security number for your tax return.
Take along your driver’s license, too. Some tax preparers will ask you for a driver’s license or state identification number to prove you are who you say you are.
In addition, some states will reject an e-file on a state return if you don’t submit information from a driver’s license or state ID. States that currently require driver’s license information are: Alabama, Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Ohio, according to the American Institute of CPAs.
Not all states had yet released their 2018 tax forms as of Jan. 16, so more states might be added later to that list, the American Institute of CPAs warned.
Many states are requesting, not requiring such information, which can be entered by tax practitioners through the tax software that they use. States that request the ID information include Louisiana, Vermont, Virginia and Illinois.
TurboTax will request your driver’s license or state ID information based on the individual state rules.
TurboTax also has a new feature this year that allows new customers to jump start their taxes by scanning their driver’s license bar code to quickly upload your name address, and birthday without tedious data entry.
3. See if you can file for free
The IRS site offers a “Free File” program that allows taxpayers, depending on their income, free access to brand-name tax products to prepare a federal tax return and file it for free. The program, which includes 12 partners, has reportedly been made more consumer-friendly to cut out some outside marketing efforts.