It's never been easier to file your own taxes. There are plenty of tax preparation solutions available, including some you can access online for free. But as you work hard to prepare to file, it's important to check out the IRS website for all the publications you can download for free.
1. Online Account Resources Overview
If you don't yet have an IRS account, this publication provides an overview of what your account will get you. Even though you only file once a year, you might have reason to think about your taxes throughout the year, making a login beneficial.
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Publication 5533 simply lists out the reasons you might want to set up an IRS account. Those include being able to view the amount you owe and make payments using a bank account or bank card. You can also opt-out of paper notices through your account.
One of the IRS's new, handy features is the ability to submit authorizations online. Using this feature, you can authorize a tax preparer to view your records or represent you online. You can also sign power of attorney requests made by your tax professional.
To learn how to set this up, use Publication 5533-A. The publication has separate steps for tax professionals and taxpayers. Tax pros use a separate section and set of processes from individuals.
3. Guide to IRS Services
The IRS website can be a big help, but it isn't the easiest site to use. Publication 5136 serves as an overview of the many services offered on the site. The guide breaks it down by the services you need and the steps you need to take.
One of the most helpful things about this publication is the direction to find phone and in-person help. You can find out how to get a copy of a return, check refund status, contact a taxpayer advocate and more.
4. Tax Season Preparedness Tips
Tax season seems to move quickly, no matter how prepared you are. Publication 5348 walks you through the many things you can do year-round to reduce the workload when it's time to file.
You don't have to wait until tax season is over to take advantage of these tips, though. Wherever you are in preparing your taxes, even if you're only a week or two away from Tax Day, you can use this publication as a checklist.
5. Year-Round Tax Planning Guide
Being prepared isn't the only reason to keep your mind on your taxes all year. Your everyday activities now influence what your tax refund will be next year. There are things you can start doing now that will help you reduce your taxable income and keep your risk of penalties at a minimum.
Publication 5349 goes over all the things you can do to keep your taxes in line. There's even a handy checklist that will help you gather all the documents you need before filing your return.
6. Child Tax Credits Overview
If you have children, you no doubt have questions at tax time each year. Publication 5585 is here to answer those questions. Consulting these three lists can help you understand exactly what each tax credit brings and what is required to qualify.
For 2021, there are three tax credits. The Earned Income Tax Credit issues up to $6,728 for up to three children, while the Child Tax Credit provides up to $3,600 for each child in your household under the age of six and $3,000 for each child aged six to 17. The Child & Dependent Care Credit gives you up to $4,000 in credit for care expenses for one qualifying person and up to $8,000 for care for two or more people who qualify.
Whether you're filing your own taxes or having a pro do the work for you, the IRS's helpful publications can answer your questions. Save these publications to your favorites so that you can refer to them throughout the year and make sure you're taking all the steps to make tax time easier.
- IRS.gov: Steps to Take Now to Get a Jump on Your Taxes
- IRS.gov: How to Submit Authorizations Using Tax Pro Account and Online Account
- IRS.gov: IRS Services Guide
- IRS.gov: Get Ready to File
- IRS.gov: Year-Round Tax Planning Is for Everyone
- IRS.gov: Child-Related 2021 Tax Credits
- IRS.gov: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- The White House: The Child Tax Credit
- Benefits.gov: Child and Dependent Care Credit