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Tax Returns - Guide to Deductions and Tax Filing

Nothing in life is as inevitable as death and taxes. It can be frustrating to see large sums of your paychecks go towards Social Security and taxes, but you must remember to file your tax return-you never know, you could possibly get some money back.

How do Tax Returns Work?

Tax returns are reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or with the state or local tax collection agency containing information used to calculate income tax or other taxes. Income taxes are taken out through each paycheck, and a tax return calculates if you should get money back from the government-usually through how many deductions you may have, which include mortgages, charitable contributions, business expenses, the number of dependents and costs for education-or if you owe money to the government.

Income Tax Return Issues

Income is any money you earn because you worked for it or invested for it. Income includes wages, interest, dividends, profits on your investments, pensions you receive and so forth. Income does not include gifts. You are not taxed on gifts you receive, such as inheritances and scholarships. The more income you earn, typically the more income tax you will have to pay. How much you owe also depends on your deductions.

Standard Tax Deductions for Students

  • Education tax credits. Students can earn education tax credits or deduct the interest they pay on their student loans.   

  • Moving expenses. You could deduct moving-related expenses. Your move must meet the following qualifications:

    • Your move must be job-related.

    • Your new job would have increased your commute by more than 50 miles if you hadn\'t moved.

    • Your moving expenses can\'t be reimbursed by your employer.

Tax Filing Tips

  • Always file. If you\'ve had money taken out of your paycheck, go ahead and file to see if you could get the money back.

  • Get some help. Tax returns can be pretty daunting, so it\'s okay to admit confusion.

  • File online. Get your tax return check direct deposited into your bank account for the quickest and easiest way of both filing and receiving your return.

  • Get all your forms together before filing.

What You\'ll Need to File Taxes

Income Documents

  • W-2s

  • 1099s

  • Proof of jury duty pay

  • Proof of alimony you received

  • Social Security statement (1099-SSA)

  • Dividend and interest statements (1099-DIV and 1099-INT)

  • Brokerage statements (1099-B), along with statements showing when you bought and sold your investments

  • Record of income and expenses for your self-employment

Other Tax Documents

  • Summary of moving expenses

  • Summary of educational expenses (college tuition)

  • Summary of your child care, day care, or adult day care expenses

  • IRA contributions (traditional, SEP, or rollovers)

  • Student loan interest paid (1098-E)

Tax Deduction Documents

  • Motor vehicle registration

  • Gifts to charity

  • Last year\'s tax preparation fees

  • Job-related expenses (union dues, job education, uniforms)

  • Loss of property due to casualty or theft


Now that you know all there is to know about your tax return, read about what your taxes go towards and how to get help preparing your taxes. 


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