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The Ascent's Complete Guide to Taxes

Review Updated
Ashley Maready
Check IconFact Checked Ashley Maready
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When it comes to taxes, preparation is key -- whether you plan to use software, or fill out your tax return longhand. And even if you're prepared, getting started with filing taxes can be a challenging process, but it doesn't have to be.

We've put together some helpful resources and guides to help you get started so you can navigate your taxes like a pro.

When is the tax deadline in 2023?

The federal tax turn deadline for 2023 is April 18. If you're responsible for filing a state tax return, be sure to check to see when your state's filing deadline is this year.

How do I get started with filing taxes?

The first step is to get all of your documents in order. You'll receive lots of different forms in the mail that you may need when preparing your tax return. These forms give you key information, such as details about your income and deductions you may be entitled to. Keep an eye out for the following tax forms:

  • W-2: This form comes from employers and details the amount you earned as well as the amount of income tax withheld from your paychecks. If you worked full or part-time, you'll receive this form. 
  • 1099: This form is used to report income from sources besides employers. You'll receive this form if you earn income as a contractor or freelancer, or if you earn income from rental real estate, among other things
  • 1099-INT: This is another type of 1099 form you'll receive if you earned interest from a savings accounts or if you earned dividends from investments. 
  • 1095-A: If you enrolled in a qualified health plan, you'll need this form to make sure you receive the proper amount of "advanced premium tax credits," which are the credits many Americans receive to help them purchase insurance. 
  • 1098: You'll receive this form detailing interest payments made on your mortgage.

There may be other forms sent to you by employers or companies you've done business with. Keep all this tax paperwork together as you receive it. While you won't need to submit most of it to the IRS (the companies who generate the forms send them directly), having it in one place will make completing your tax return much simpler. 

Should I hire a tax professional?

Professional tax services range from straightforward filing to strategic long-term advice. Tax professionals can help save you time and even money when filing.

Consider seeking help if:

  • You have a business: Company owners or contractors may need guidance from someone who knows tax laws related to specific jobs or industries.
  • You've had a major life change: Marriage, divorce, kids, caring for elderly parents -- each involves areas of the tax code that may be new to you.
  • You've had a transaction-heavy year: Buying and selling a home or investments (and how you structure your transactions) will affect how much you owe Uncle Sam.
  • Your records are not great and/or you anticipate tax troubles: Finding a tax-code pro who can represent you in an audit can be a lifesaver.

Additional tax information

Our Taxes Experts