Things To Remember When Filing Your Taxes

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, regardless of where you are living, your worldwide income is generally subject to U.S. income tax. Whether you are in the United States or abroad, you must file an income tax return for 2015 if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status on the following:

FILING STATUS AMOUNT [$]
Single   10,300
Single and 65 or older 11,850
Head of household 13,250
Head of household and 65 or older 14,800
Qualifying widow(er) 16,600
Qualifying widow(er) and 65 or older 17,850
Married filing jointly 20,600
Married filing jointly but not living with spouse at end of year 4,000
Married filing jointly and one spouse is 65 or older 21,850
Married filing jointly and both spouses are 65 or older 23,100
Married filing separately 4,000

You can file your tax return either in paper form or electronically. If you opt to use paper, make sure you attach all related schedules and forms behind your return in the order of the sequence number located in the upper right hand corner of the schedule or form. Be sure to also attach a copy of Forms W-2 and any other applicable supporting forms like Form 2439 or Form 1040 (for Notice to Shareholder of Undistributed Long-Term Capital Gains). Sign the returns and mail or send it to the address indicated in the instructions for the form you are filing.

You can also opt to file electronically through the IRS e-file facility either by yourself or with the help of a professional tax preparation service provider. When you file electronically, you usually receive your refund within 3 weeks after the IRS receives your return, even faster if you elect to have it directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Submitting your tax return electronically also ensures greater accuracy than mailing your return since the e-file system can detect common errors and will send back the returns to you if there are any found for correction. But electronically or otherwise, if you cannot file by the due date of your return, you should immediately request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you can file IRS Form 4868 by the due date of your return.

Before filing your return, review it to make sure it is correct and complete. The following checklist from the IRS may help you avoid common errors:

  • Did you clearly print your name, taxpayer identification number, and current address, including your ZIP code, directly on your return?
  • Did you choose only one correct filing status?  
  • Did you check the appropriate exemption boxes for your personal, spousal, and dependency exemptions? Did you enter the total number of exemptions?
  • Did you enter the names and taxpayer identification numbers for everyone listed on your return? If using social security numbers, they must be entered exactly as those names and numbers appear on each person’s social security card.
  • Did you enter your income on the correct lines?
  • Did you calculate deductions and credits correctly, put them on the right lines, and attached the necessary forms or schedules?
  • Did you put brackets around negative amounts?
  • If you are taking the standard deduction and checked any box indicating either you or your spouse were age 65 or older or blind, did you find the correct standard deduction using the chart in the Form 1040 Instructions or Form 1040A Instructions?
  • Did you figure the tax correctly? If you used the given tax tables, did you use the correct column for your filing status?
  • Did you sign and date the return? If it is a joint return, did your spouse also sign and date the return?
  • If you received an IP PIN (Identity Protection PIN) from the IRS, see “identity protection PIN” in the instructions for your form.
  • Do you have a Form W-2 from each of your employers and did you attach Copy B of each Form W-2 to your return? If you have more than one job, combine the wages and withholdings from all Forms W-2 you receive and report those amounts on one return.
  • Did you attach each Form 1099-R that shows federal tax withholding?
  • Did you attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order as shown in the upper right-hand corner?
  • Did you use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions?
  • Did you use the correct postage on the envelope?
  • If you owe tax, did you enclose a check or money order made payable to the “United States Treasury” with your return and include your name, address, social security number, daytime telephone number, tax form, and tax year on the payment?  
  • If you are due a refund and requested direct deposit, did you double-check your routing and account numbers for your financial institution?
  • Did you make a copy of the signed return and all schedules for your own records?

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