Plan ahead for tax returns

Published 4:30 pm Wednesday, January 18, 2017

For many, April 15 is a frantic day that comes each year when the deadline to file income tax returns arrives.

However, while this day causes stress for some, the ability to plan ahead can greatly reduce that anxiety.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers some tips that can help individuals and families for preparing to file their 2016 tax return by the deadline on April 18 this year.

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•    Gather your records.  Make sure you have all your tax records. This includes receipts, canceled checks and other records that support income, deductions or tax credits that you claim.

•    Report all your income. You will need to report your income from all of your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, Forms 1099 and any other income – even if you don’t receive a statement – when you file your tax return.

•    Try IRS Free File. Free file is available only on If you made $62,000 or less, you can use free name-brand tax software to file your federal tax return. If you earned more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, an electronic version of IRS paper forms.

•    Try IRS e-file. Electronic filing is the best way to file a tax return. It’s accurate, safe and easy. If you owe taxes, you have the option to e-file early and pay by April 18 to avoid penalties and interest.

•    Use Direct Deposit.  The fastest and safest way to get your refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit. The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.

•    Visit is a great place to get what you need to file your tax return. Click on the “Filing” icon for links to filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions and IRS forms and publications.

•    Weigh your filing options. You have different options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer.

•    Review your return. Mistakes slow down your tax refund. If you file a paper return, be sure to check all Social Security numbers. That’s one of the most common errors.

While filing taxes may not be fun or exciting, having the proper information can save a lot of headache later.