It’s tax season. No one likes it. Also, why should we have to pay money to give money to the government, or to get back what they owe us?
I’m going to share with you a pro tip: if you make less than $69,000, you may be able to file your taxes for free!
Here is a list of all the ways you can file taxes for free, straight from the IRS: https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/
I’ll talk a little more in depth about each method here.
Do I Need to Hire Someone to Do My Taxes?
In my opinion, you should hire a tax professional to do your taxes if:
- You just don’t want to deal with doing your own
- Your taxes are complicated (if you have a business, you’re an independent contractor, you own a house, etc.)
- You’ve never done taxes before and want someone to teach you
- AND you can afford it
My tax situation is pretty simple right now since I am a W-2 employee (work full time) and don’t own a business or a home. Damn California is so expensive.
I suspect many 20 somethings have a similarly simple tax situation, so I generally recommend that most people our age do their taxes themselves. It’s definitely not fun, but you save some money and it’s good to know how to do them.
Before You Start, Collect All Your Documents
Before you decide how to file your taxes, collect all your tax documents. The most common tax forms for 20 somethings are:
- A W-2 from your full- or part-time employer
- A 1099 for other income, like if you’re an independent contractor, receive interest from your bank, get dividends from stocks, etc.
How to Find Your Tax Documents
Ideally, you’ve adulted enough to know where all your tax documents are. If you’re like most of us…you may not know all the tax documents you need.
Tax document shortcut: search your email inbox for “tax document.” Look through everything you’ve received during January of this year. Chances are, those emails tell you how to find your tax documents.
If you’ve been tracking your income, you can look through your income sheet to make sure you’re not missing anything. If you can’t find a tax document from a company that paid you last calendar year, you should contact them and ask for it before you start doing your taxes.
File Your Taxes For Free If You Make Less Than $36k
If your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is less than $36,000 per year, you can file your taxes for free with TurboTax all from the comfort of your own home. I’ve used this method in the past and it was a relatively painless way to do taxes. They’ll walk you through the steps of how to do everything and will help fill out the forms for you.
Keep in mind, if you have more forms than a W2 or 1099, you may have to pay to file still. Look into which forms are supported for Free File before you start!
File Your Taxes For Free If You Make Less Than $69k
If your AGI is less than $69,000 per year, you can use H&R Block to file your taxes for free. I have used this method for the past few years, including this year. H&R Block honestly made doing my taxes so easy. This year, it took me less than an hour!
It’s basically the same as TurboTax’s free file program, except you can make nearly double and still file for free. It will ask you questions and walk you through all the steps to file your taxes. You can even import your tax documents (like your W-2) so you don’t have to manually type in all the numbers.
They really should be paying me to tell you about this, but they’re not. I really just think you’ll like it. You know, as much as you can like tax software.
Obviously, I am oversimplifying all of this. There are plenty of other reasons besides the ones I’ve listed why you may want to have someone else do your taxes. This is my advice that I think will work for most people in their 20s, and has worked for me in mine. I’m not a tax professional, so take my advice with a grain of salt, like you should with everything else you read on the internet.
May the tax gods be on your side this year, my friends.