Filing taxes for the first time? Filing your annual tax return is a civic duty that is required by law for all people living in the United States. It can also provide you and your family with significant economic benefits, such as:
- Qualifying for federal, state, and local benefits
- Providing you with evidence that you have residency in the U.S., which could help you in your immigration process
- Qualifying for federal financial aid for your children's education
- Accessing tax refunds upon qualification
- Getting tax credits on your return, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Learn everything you need to know about filing your tax return, such as the importance of paying your taxes, how to file, and much more in this helpful guide.
Keep in mind: Money collected in tax returns is used to fund public programs, such as public schools, highways, national parks, hospitals, national security, and even salaries for public servants, such as police officers and firefighters, who work to serve and protect the general public. Our taxes pave the way for a higher standard of living in this country!
Who Is Required to Pay Taxes?
In the United States, everyone is required by law to file their taxes every year. Regardless of your immigration status, you must pay taxes if you earned some type of income during the year. Those who do not pay their taxes on time are subject to fines or legal penalties. Here is a list of people exempt from paying taxes.
Taxes must be filed by April 15th of each year. Note that this past year, the date to file was postponed to May 15, 2021 due to the impact of COVID-19.
Keep in mind: Did you know that properly filing your taxes can lead to saving money? Continue reading to learn how to find and hire a qualified tax preparer.
Requirements for Filing Your Taxes
Being prepared can help save you time, money, and a great deal of stress. Here’s a list of recommended information and documents you may need to file your tax return efficiently:
- Your Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Records of all the income received from employment and/or services (ex. W-2 forms / 1099 forms)
- Records of paid interest in bank accounts, mortgage payments, etc.
- You and your dependent(s)’ full names and dates of birth
- The SSNs or ITINs of all your dependents in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that will be included on your tax return
- Tax returns from previous years — unless this is your first time filing your taxes
ITIN: Frequently Asked Questions
What is an ITIN?An ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) is a number issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to those who don’t qualify for a Social Security Number (SSN), but must file a tax return. If you have an SSN, you don’t need to apply for an ITIN. However, if you don’t qualify for an SSN, you must apply for an ITIN. Aside from filing your taxes, an ITIN number may also help you open a bank account.
How do I get an ITIN?
To apply for an ITIN, you must complete and submit a W-7 form and provide the requested original identification documents or copies certified by the agency that issued them to the IRS address.
Does having an ITIN mean that I can get a job?
The ITIN is only a taxpayer ID, and having one does NOT mean that you’re authorized to work in the United States.
Apply for an ITIN
You can apply for an ITIN directly with the IRS or through a Certified Acceptance Agent (CAA). Some locations can help you with your application at no cost if you also file your tax return with them.
Keep in mind: You need to meet government requirements to receive an ITIN. Having an ITIN does not change your immigration status.
How to Select a Tax Preparer?
Nothing is more rewarding than being able to work and provide for both ourselves and our loved ones. However, mistakes or improper filing can cause both financial and legal problems. When choosing a tax preparer, choose a certified advisor that is trustworthy and has experience in filing taxes with the IRS.
Here are a few things you should consider when selecting your tax preparer:
- Check their credentials — They must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN).
- Evaluate their experience — When evaluating your tax preparer, look for someone with experience and a reliable track record. Consider asking family and friends for recommendations of trusted individuals or agencies.
- Ask about the cost of their services — A suitable preparer will explain how the cost of their services is calculated. They shouldn’t consider the amount of your refund in their fees.
- Search for year-round availability — Your preparer should be available to advise you at any time, even after tax season is over, in case the IRS requires any additional paperwork.
Did you know that you can have a tax preparer review your returns from the past 3 years and see if you claimed all the credits and deductions you were eligible for? Selecting a qualified and knowledgeable tax preparer can be very beneficial to not only helping you save money, but even getting additional income owed to you!
If you have any other questions about filing your taxes, contact us by clicking the green button with a question mark on the bottom-right of the screen, and we’ll be happy to help you.