There are steps you can take now to make sure your tax filing experience goes smoothly next year. Taking these steps will also help you avoid surprises when you file next year.
Check withholding – do a Paycheck Checkup soon
Since employees typically only have one or two pay dates left this year, checking withholding soon is especially important. Because of the many changes in the tax law, refunds may be different than prior years for some taxpayers. Some may even owe an unexpected tax bill when they file their 2018 tax return next year. To avoid these kind of surprises, taxpayers should do a “Paycheck checkup” to help them decide if they need to adjust their withholding or make estimated or more tax payments now.
The IRS urges all taxpayers to file a complete and accurate tax return by making sure they have all the needed documents before they file their return. This includes their 2017 tax return and:
· Year-end Forms W-2 from employers,
· Forms 1099 from banks and other payers and
· Forms 1095-A from the Marketplace for those claiming the premium tax credit.
Taxpayers should confirm that each employer, bank or other payer has a current mailing address or email address. Typically, these forms start arriving by mail – or are available online – in January. Check them over carefully, and if any of the information shown is inaccurate, the taxpayer should contact the payer right away for a correction.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of any filed tax return and all supporting documents for at least three years. Certain key information from their prior year return may be required to file in 2019.
Choose e-file and direct deposit for a faster refund
Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds, and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file. Using tax preparation software is the best and simplest way to file a complete and accurate tax return. The software guides taxpayers through the process and does all the math. Combining direct deposit with electronic filing is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their refund. With direct deposit, a refund goes directly into a taxpayer’s bank account. They don’t need to worry about a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund check.
Use a tax return to validate identity
Taxpayers using tax filing software for the first time may need their adjusted gross income (AGI) amount from their prior year’s tax return to verify their identity. Those who need a copy of their tax return should first check with their software provider or tax preparer. Taxpayers can also obtain a free tax transcript from the IRS, or for a fee, order a copy of their tax return.
Order a transcript
A tax transcript can be ordered from the IRS. It summarizes tax return information and includes AGI. Tax transcripts are free and available for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the tax return. Tax transcripts are available for the past three tax years.
Plan ahead. Delivery times for online and phone orders typically take five to 10 days from the time the IRS receives the request. Taxpayers who order by mail should allow 30 days to receive transcripts and 75 days for tax returns.
There are three ways for taxpayers to order a transcript:
· Online. Taxpayers can use the IRS.gov to view, print or download a copy of your file. Those who use it must authenticate their identity and create an account. Please allow five to 10 calendar days for delivery.
· By phone. Call 800-908-9946.
· By mail. Taxpayers who are unable to register online may use the mail. Taxpayers can complete and send the IRS either Form 4506-T Request for Transcript of Tax Return, or Form 4506T-EZ, Short Form Request for Individual Tax Return Transcript. Use Form 4506-T to request other tax records: tax account transcript, record of account, wage and income and verification of non-filing. These forms are available on the IRS.gov website. Those who need an actual copy of a tax return can get one for the current tax year and as far back as six years. The fee per copy is $50. Taxpayers can complete and mail Form 4506 to request a copy of a tax return and mail the request to the appropriate IRS office listed on the form.
The IRS is now redacting transcripts so that sensitive information, such as the taxpayer’s name, address and Social Security number, is partially masked. However, all financial entries, such as the adjusted gross income, are visible. The redacted transcript will better protect taxpayers from identity theft.