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If you’re anything like me, you have been working for a while and tax season has finally come. Last year I had no clue how to be an adult and file my taxes, but I succeeded last year and that’s why I’m here to help you this year! Here’s your guide for the 2021 tax season!

What You’ll Need: The Basics

If you have a job, you will have received a W-2 form from your employer. This form shows the amount of taxes withheld from every paycheck you received in the past year, and it is very important to have when filing your taxes. You will receive a W-2 form from every place you have worked. So if you worked two jobs, each job will send you a form to the mailing address you have in their system. Every W-2 that you receive should be used to file your taxes.

Because there was a global pandemic, you might have received unemployment from the IRS. That means you will receive the 1099-G form which will be mailed to you. It’s similar to the W-2 because it reports how much money you received during the unemployment period. But don’t worry if you didn’t receive one and you received money from the unemployment office! You can contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 to request a copy. 

You will also need to know your social security number. Your social security number is the unique identification number given to you by the government. If you don’t have the number memorized, you can bring the card or a photo of the card with you to file your taxes.

Finally, you will need to know the routing and account number for your bank account. This information can actually be found online in your mobile banking app or on a desktop. If you don’t have a bank account, you will receive your tax refund in the mail by check.

There is a chance that you might have some extra documents to file as well. If you made charitable donations such as tithes or donated directly to a charity, the organization will send you a receipt of your donations to your mailing address. If you own a small business, there are extra forms you will need to have to report to the IRS. Those can be found online on their website or by calling their office!

Where to File

You have two options to file your taxes: do it yourself or have a tax professional file them. If you choose to file your taxes yourself, two online tax filing services I would recommend are TurboTax and H&R Block. The interface is simple so filing isn’t confusing. The websites also give instructions for what to enter in what boxes and how to do the math properly. There is a fee to use these services, but they are the most convenient. When I file my taxes, I like to go to a professional for my own peace of mind. I file at the physical location for the H&R Block which takes very little time. I speak to the professional and drop off all the documents I gathered.

Now that you have a starting point, I would recommend talking to an adult to get further advice; they have been filing taxes for a much longer time. An adult might also have some gems I didn’t cover. Good luck!

Jennifer is a Junior Communication major at the University of Louisville
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