File Your Own Taxes

While many taxpayers use an accountant or tax preparer to do their taxes, some choose to go the DIY route. We'll tell you everything you need to know to maximize your refund when doing your own taxes.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do I need to know if I'm filing for the first time?

    Essentially, you likely owe the government a portion of your income and earnings. Income tax is usually withheld from each of your paychecks by your employer throughout the year, based on what you'll probably owe. Certain factors can affect how much you'll owe, such as your marital status, the number of dependents you have, and tax breaks that you're entitled to claim. Using tax software is one of the easiest ways to prepare your tax return. These programs ask you some questions and fill in the appropriate forms for you based on your answers.

  • Is it cheaper to do my own taxes?

    Preparing your tax return yourself can be cheaper than paying someone else such as an accountant to prepare and file your taxes. You might consider choosing tax preparation software from a company such as TurboTax or H&R Block, both which offer low fees and sometimes free deals. These services usually offer tax support and advice as well.

  • What are the requirements for filing taxes?

    Your tax filing requirements depend on a few factors including filing status (i.e. single, married, head of household), age, and gross income. If you're single and under 65, for example, as of the 2020 tax year, you were required to file if your federal gross income was $12,400 or more. If you’re 65 or older, you were required to file if your federal gross income was $14,050 or more.

  • What are the penalties for not filing taxes on time?

    Generally, interest accrues on any unpaid tax from the due date of the return until the date of payment in full. If you owe tax and don't file on time, there's also a penalty for not filing on time. The failure-to-file penalty is usually 5% of the tax owed for each month, or part of a month that your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. 

  • Should I e-file my taxes?

    The short answer is yes, e-filing is very safe for submitting your tax returns. E-filing is more secure than mailing a tax return via snail mail, because the data in an e-filed tax return is specially encrypted for extra security. Encryption prevents any access to data as it moves between your tax software and the IRS or state tax agency.

  • How do I file an extension for my tax return?

    The deadline for your annual personal return is normally April 15, unless it falls on a weekend or a holiday, in which case your taxes would be due the next business day. You have until October 15 to file your return if you file an extension. Just file IRS Form 4868 instead of your tax return, on or before the original filing deadline. The extension is automatic—you won't have to wait and hope for a nod of approval from the IRS.

Key Terms

who qualifies for head of household status? this status is considered to be the most preferable for taxpayers, as it results in a higher standard deduction and wider tax brackets. In most cases to qualify, you must prove: You are unmarried on the last day of the tax year, or lived in a separate residence from your spouse for at least the last six months of the year. You provide more than half the cost of your household’s expenses. A qualifying dependent must live in your home for more than half the year (certain restrictions apply for this rule)
Can You Claim Head of Household Filing Status on Your Taxes?
tax preparation prices and fees
How Much Do Accountants Charge for Tax Preparation?
Single Dad Video Night
How to Claim Dependents on Your Federal Tax Return
A man is sitting on a couch and filling out forms.
Form 5071C
timeline of the tax filing process: gather your income documents, start filing, complete on time, and receive your tax refund in less than 21 days
How Soon Can You File Your 2021 Tax Return?
couple sitting on couch filing paperwork with computer in front of them
Form 8949
person in red sweater sitting in front of computer with paperwork
Should You File a Tax Extension? There Are Pros and Cons.
Senior man seriously evaluating paperwork at a small, round table at home
IRS Form 5498
Young businesswoman reviewing papers
Minimum Income Requirements for 2021 Tax Returns
Father sitting with his young daughter on his lap
Is the Child Support You Pay Tax Deductible?
Image shows: five icons highlighting different reasons to file a separate tax return from your spouse while a woman's hand signs a 1040-C tax return in the right-hand corner. Text says: "when should you file a separate return from your spouse? you lack spousal content, there's an income disparity, you want to qualify for an income-driven repayment plan to lower federal student loan payments, you're getting divorced or are separated, you have liability concerns, a joint return wouldn't lower your tax bill or increase your refund"
The Married-Filing-Separately Tax Status
A tax preparer helps a family claim the child tax credit on their tax returns.
Tax Break
Woman sitting on the floor in front of her sofa with a laptop and tax documents
Form 1099
A senior couple working on their taxes at a laptop at home table
Line 5A on Form 1040
how to update your address with the IRS: use form 883, on your tax return, call your local IRS office, visit your local IRS office, send notice in writing
Moving? How To Tell the IRS About a Change of Address
Bridegroom and bride putting on rings
Tips for Filing Taxes When Married
Can a Family Breadwinner Claim Her Spouse as a Dependent?
Claiming Your Spouse as a Dependent—When and What You Can and Can't Do
Father kissing sons at breakfast table.
Personal Exemptions Used to Reduce Taxable Income
Can two people file as HOH at the same address? The IRS maintains that head of household filing status isn't about the physical address. In order to have two people filing as HOH at same address, they need to be separate economic entities.
Can Two Taxpayers Claim Head of Household Status at the Same Address?
Woman reviewing taxes on a computer
IRS Form 8938
A woman prepares her taxes at her laptop as the deadline for tax payment is pushed back 90 days.
The IRS Extended Tax Deadline for Filing and Payments to July 15, 2020.
Person uses a smartphone to remotely deposit a tax-refund check.
Tax Refund
Image of a man mailing his tax forms. Text reads A Guide to Mailing Tax Documents to the IRS: The IRS strongly recommends e-filing if possible. Physical copies must be postmarked by the tax due date. Visit "Where to File" on the IRS website to see your state’s mailing address for tax returns. Note: The mailing address will be dependent on whether you’re sending money or not. Mailing addresses will be different for other tax documents, so read the IRS website carefully. If you live outside the U.S., use a private delivery service to mail your documents
How To Mail Your Taxes to the IRS
A man looks over paperwork in front of a computer, a woman and baby behind him
When Do You Have to Claim Crowdfunded Money as Income?
claiming adult dependent tax rules
Can You Claim an Adult as a Dependent on Your Taxes?
Man signing tax form, detail
Your Taxes and Reporting 1099-A or 1099-B Information
Were You Divorced or Separated? Here's How It Affects Your Taxes.
Father holding sleeping baby while doing paperwork at the computer
Form 1040-A
How to stop the awful feeling that your child loves the babysitter more than you!
The Nanny Tax: What It Is, Who Owes It, and How to Pay It
Where Is Your Tax Refund? 1. Via the IRS website, using the Where's My Refund? web application; 2. via mobile phone application, IRS2Go (available for Android and iOS devices); 3. Via telephone, by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-900-829-1954.
Where's Your Tax Refund? Check with the IRS and Your State
A woman sits at her dining room table with laptop, preparing to write a check
Need More Time to Prepare Your Taxes? Consider Filing for an Extension.
An older couple meeting with a female professional at a laptop
How to Find the Right Professional to Prepare Your Taxes
asian man sitting at table going through paperwork on computer
Do You Know the Tax Penalties for Filing and Paying Late?
Older couple using laptop at home on couch
Form 1040-SR
A taxpayer searches for tax filing forms on a laptop.
Tax Tips: How to Find the IRS Form You Need
A couple looks at tax paperwork.
Ordinary Income
Mother holding a newborn baby beside a window
Can You Claim Your Baby as a Dependent on Your Taxes?
A mother and daughter sitting on a park bench in fall
Recently Widowed? You Could Qualify for This Special Tax Status.
Young couple looking at a laptop and paperwork in their living room
Adjusted Basis
Woman at her desk chewing her nails as she reads a bill/notice
Tax Offsets: What To Do When Your Refund Is Intercepted
Track Down Your IRS Refund
Check the Status of Your Tax Refund and Trace It if It's Missing
The next numbers are as follows
Where To Find and How To Read 1040 Tax Tables
A couple sitting at a table working on taxes together
Sharing Child Custody? IRS Tiebreaker Rules for Claiming Dependents.
Close-up of young bartender serving cocktail in nightlife bar
Form 4137
Person doing tax paperwork on a laptop at the kitchen counter
Tax Relief
Two Muslim women working in their home office
What You Need to Know About U.S. Tax Returns if You Have a Green Card
Close up of a blank 1099-MISC form.
How To Report 1099-MISC Box 3 Payments on Your 1040 for Tax Year 2021
People wading through water during a flood
How to Claim Casualty and Theft Losses on a Tax Return
Financial advisor having a meeting with clients
Section 457 Retirement Plan Contribution Limits
Woman at laptop calculating her Alternative Minimum Tax
Alternative Minimum Tax
Couple reviewing papers together at their kitchen table
Easy Tips to File Your Tax Return Correctly
Couple doing financial planning at home on floor with laptop and papers
You Can Sometimes Claim Your Partner as Your Dependent
Woman sitting at her desk making a list in her notebook.
How to Send Your Tax Documents Securely to Your Accountant
Woman in bank filling out banking slip on counter
How to Get Tax Refunds by Direct Deposit
Shot of a mature man using a laptop at home, looking thoughtfully ahead with his chin in his hand
Tax Consequences of Early Distributions of Retirement Funds
Smiling woman writing on a large packing box
The IRS Excludes Many Primary Residence Sales from Capital Gains Tax
Couple sitting on wall, man taking photo, Eiffel tower in background
Learn How To Report Foreign Bank Accounts to the U.S. Treasury
Young woman working on laptop in bedroom
Everything You Need To File Your Taxes
Couple doing financial planning at home
Time Limit for Reporting Social Security Earnings
Smiling architect writing on papers tacked to a wall
Form W-8BEN