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FunTimes Magazine

7 DIY Tax Steps

Nov 24, 2023 11:23AM ● By Nikia Owens, Ph.D.
 by Drazen Zigic on Freepik

It is that time of the year, and a few people may be considering doing their own taxes. Well, think of doing your own taxes, like navigating a complex recipe. You need the right ingredients (your financial documents), a good understanding of the recipe (tax laws), and the right tools (tax software or forms). I will take you through a simplified guide to “how to do your own taxes,” highlighting the challenges and solutions. I hope my analogy to cooking and the hot spices helps you.

1. Gather Financial Documents: Collect W-2s, 1099s, and receipts for deductions. This can be like a scavenger hunt, ensuring you have every necessary piece of information.

2. Understand Tax Laws: Grasp the basics of tax deductions and credits. This is often where the recipe can get complicated, as tax laws can be dense and complex.

3. Choose a Filing Method: Decide whether to use tax software or manual forms. Think of this as choosing between a digital or a traditional cookbook.

4. Fill Out Tax Forms: Complete forms such as Form 1040. This step is akin to following the recipe step-by-step, requiring attention to detail.

5. Calculate Deductions and Credits: Determine if standard or itemized deductions work best for you. Missing the right deductions is like skipping a key spice in a recipe.

6. Review and File: Double-check for errors and file your taxes with the IRS, either electronically or by mail. This is the final taste test before serving.

7. Handle Payments or Refunds: Arrange to pay any taxes due or anticipate a refund. 

Navigating the challenges of doing your own taxes can be a complex task, but it's manageable with the right strategies. Tax laws can be as perplexing as a gourmet recipe. Consider using tax software for guided assistance. Tax laws also change, like food trends. Therefore, stay updated through IRS resources or tax news.

One of the significant risks involved in filing your own taxes is the possibility of making errors. You can minimize this by double-checking your work or having someone review it.

Preparing taxes can be as time-consuming as a slow-cooked meal. And my suggestion is to start early and break the process into manageable steps.

Finally, protect your sensitive data through secure handling, especially when filing electronically. Navigating the world of taxes independently can be challenging, but with the right approach and tools, it's certainly achievable. Just like mastering a complex recipe, it takes patience, attention, and the willingness to seek help when needed.

In the alternative, you could reach out to Campaign for Working Families, and certified IRS professionals will do your taxes for FREE.

Read more from Campaign for Working Families:

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