Tax Season is Upon Us—Here’s What You Need to Know

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Tax season is upon us, and I’m determined to get ahead of the game this year. While the days leading up to tax day are usually stressful in my house, I’m determined to make sure that filing taxes is as straightforward and stress-free as possible this year. If you’re like me and would rather not drown in last-minute paperwork this April, here are five reminders for navigating tax season with ease:

  1. 1. Don't procrastinate

    flower and clock

    The golden rule of filing taxes? Don’t procrastinate! Seriously. Give yourself plenty of time to gather your materials, organize yourself, and strategize what you need to do in order to move forward. The closer to April 15th you begin, the more stressful the process will feel. I recommend setting a reminder and deadline on your calendar just like you would any other assignment — trust me, time is of the essence when it comes to taxes.

  2. 2. Use a service

    two women sitting at table signing papers

    Having support during tax season can mean the difference between drowning in paperwork and getting things completed efficiently (and stress-free!) ahead of time. Tax preparation services like H&R Block can help you file your taxes in-person or virtually for free (if you have a simple tax return), plus, they offer a helpful tax prep checklist to help you get started. 

  3. 3. Keep track of your expenses

    If you haven’t already, start documenting your expenses and consolidate the information into a digital or hard copy document and file in a place you’ll remember. If you’re a college student, be sure to keep track of any school-related expenses like textbooks or any charitable donations you’ve made — they may qualify you for a tax deduction with proper documentation! 

  4. 4. Understand your W-2 and 1040 tax forms

    Your Employee Wage Report form, known as the W-2, is crucial for filing your taxes. W-2 forms are issued from your employer and tell the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) how much you’ve earned, as well as how much has already been dedicated for taxes. There are different types of 1040 forms (with a helpful explanation here!), so be sure to set aside time to understand which one you’ll need to file based on your unique situation.

  5. 5. Don’t forget about your side gigs

    painting of flowers for the spring

    It’s a common misconception that you don’t have to pay taxes on your side hustle. However, you should definitely keep track of any and all freelance or side hustle income and have it on file for tax season! Whether you’re a dog walker, influencer, freelance writer, or all of the above, use a spreadsheet to keep track of your earnings year-round. It’ll save you a ton of time in the long run. 

Filing taxes can be overwhelming, but don’t worry — once you get the hang of it, the process will get easier over time! Be sure to do your research ahead of time, check out a helpful tax prep service like H&R Block, and check-in with a tax expert if you could use some extra support. You can also explore Her Campus’s Taxtbook, presented by H&R Block, for helpful tips, tricks, and resources to help you feel confident this tax season! Trust me, with these helpful tips, you’ll have the hang of tax season in no time.