3 Tricks to Make Filing Your Taxes Easier

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  • The process of filing taxes can be stressful for some people.
  • You can simplify the process with the right approach and filing method.
  • Review your last return, file electronically, and have someone review your return before you submit it.

Tax season is here. Take part of the load off with these tips.

There's a reason people don't tend to enjoy filing taxes -- despite many winding up with a tax refund. Not only can the process be a little tedious, but it can also be stressful, especially for people who have a lot of documentation to gather and deductions to get right.

If you're dreading the idea of filing this year's tax return, you're probably in good company. But here are three tactics you can employ to make the process of filing your taxes easier.

1. Look at last year's tax return before you get started

The information contained on your previous tax return might help you get organized for this year's return. It pays to give that return a look before starting the process. You can use that return to see what deductions you claimed and what information you submitted to the IRS. From there, you can make a list of the documents you'll need to complete your taxes this year.

Of course, your tax situation may have changed in 2021 compared to 2020 -- maybe you got a side hustle whose income you now need to report. But you can use your previous tax return as a starting point.

2. File your taxes electronically

Filing a tax return doesn't necessarily mean having to do complex math. But there are numbers involved, and if you're worried about making a mistake on your taxes, you can mitigate that issue by filing your return electronically. Today's software programs are set up to catch math errors and potentially flag other mistakes that could cause your return to get rejected or audited.

But that's not the only reason to file electronically rather than on paper. If you're due a refund, you'll no doubt want that money to hit your bank account as quickly as possible. The normal turnaround time to process refunds for electronically filed tax returns is three weeks, whereas for paper returns, it's six weeks. If you file electronically, you may not have to wait as long to get the money you're owed -- especially if you sign up for direct deposit as well.

3. Get a second pair of eyes on your return before submitting it

Filing electronically might help you avoid certain math errors. But if you input the wrong Social Security number for one of your kids, or if you accidentally copy down your $54,200 of income from your W-2 as $52,400, you could run into issues. That's why you may not want to tackle your return solo.

This doesn't mean you have to pay a professional to help you with your taxes. Rather, enlist the help of your spouse, a family member, or a trusted friend to proofread your return before sending it in. Someone who didn't do the prep work may be more likely to spot an error than you are.

While some people might consider the process of doing taxes stressful, it really doesn't have to be. If you employ these tips, you might have an even easier time breezing through it.

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