The IRS is not accepting filings this year until January 24th, but you can start the process right now. Call your tax preparer, if you plan on using one, to check scheduling. With all the new changes in the tax code and a backlog at the IRS, it may take a while to get an appointment. Go in early if you can, even if you still need to pay off tax debt from last year. Follow the steps below in order to make sure your tax filing goes as smoothly as possible.


  1. Gather All Relevant Tax Documents

Employees should receive a W-2 form from their employer, either electronically or in the mail. Independent contractors need 1099 forms from any entity that has paid them money during the year. There are also forms for dividend income (1099-DIV), interest income (1099-INT), miscellaneous income (1099-MISC), mortgage interest (1098) and gambling winnings (W-2G).


  1. Organize Your Receipts from the Year

You’ll need receipts for your expenses if you plan on doing itemized deductions. That’s a decision that should have been made at the beginning of the tax year. Be sure to include receipts for medical expenses if you have them. For taxpayers doing the standard deduction, the numbers for 2022 are $12,950 for singles and $25,100 for couples filing jointly.


  1. Get Personal Information for Dependents

This is a step that is often missed and can cause a delay in the filing process. If you’re claiming dependents, make sure you get all their personal information before going to the tax preparer. That includes date of birth and social security numbers. While you’re doing that, check on other relevant information like addresses on second properties and dates of any asset sales.


  1. Request an Extension if You Need It

The information gathering and organizational stages of tax preparation are typically the times when taxpayers realize they’re not going to be ready to pay by the April 18th deadline. That’s the time to file for an extension. It won’t change your tax liability or the filing deadline, but it will give you more time to come up with the money that you owe.


  1. Find Your Copy of Last Year’s Return

Tax preparation is simpler if you have your tax return from last year. The preparer can use it to easily reference information that needs to be transferred over to this year’s return. That includes correct names, addresses, social security numbers, health care information, employer information if still the same, and industry sector codes.


  1. Make Plans for Your Tax Refund

Deciding what to do with your tax return before you know how much it is may seem like putting the cart before the horse. That’s not the case. You may want your return applied to next year’s tax bill if you think you’ll owe money. If you’re taking a payment, you’ll need to decide whether to wait for a check or have it direct-deposited. The latter is recommended.


  1. File Your Taxes by April 18th

The tax filing deadline, which is usually April 15th, has been moved up to April 18th this year. Mark it on your calendar. Filing late will cost you. The IRS charges a penalty for late filing and interest on any money that’s past due. This year, with the IRS already backlogged with past tax returns, it’s recommended that you file as early as possible.