Tax Return Step by Step Guide

Prepare To Prepare Your Taxes

This is a high level step by step guide on how to prepare to prepare and e-File your 2020 Federal IRS and/or State Income Tax Return(s).

Use this tax return preparation checklist to plan and prepare for your online tax returns on

It will not only assist you in gathering all the important tax records and documents you need to prepare and e-file your Federal and State Tax Returns, but also assure a more accurate and faster process to prepare and eFile your Taxes.

Tax Tip: If you expect to owe Taxes on your 2020 Tax Return, do eFile your return or tax extension on time, as the late filing penalties are higher than the late payment penalties. File and pay as little or as much as you can. Most taxpayers are not aware of this! You can claim your 2020 Tax Refund until April 15, 2024 by filing a return. After that day your refund will expire.


Tax Buzz
Tax Return Guide
Action Item(s)
Collect necessary records, forms, and receipts throughout the Tax Year based on your income and expenses.
Have your 2019 Tax Year tax return handy. Collect W-2, 1099, 1098-T, etc.
Don't rush IT = Income Taxes. Most Income, Deduction Forms will arrive in your mail box and/or electronically by Jan. 31 for Tax Year 2019. Don't e-file earlier unless you are 100% certain you got all Forms.
Preparation Checklist before you e-file. Tax Return Forms you can e-file or not.
Don't wait until the end of the Tax Year to assess your taxes. Plan in July and before the end of the year, December 31st.
Assess your tax withholdings throughout the year and factor in all your income (W-2, 1099, etc.).
Consider retirement plan options and contributions. It's never too early for that.
Know the expenses you can and cannot deduct on your tax return. 
Find out if you actually have to file an income tax return.
Should you file yourself or as someone's dependent on your tax return?
Find out if you qualify as a dependent on someone's return.
Are you a single student with a child or dependent?
See if you qualify for the Head of Household filing status.
Even you DON'T HAVE TO file a return, you still might WANT TO file a return for other reasons.
Estimate your tax refund or taxes owed before you start filing or e-filing your tax return.
Even if you can't pay for the taxes you might owe, you should either file a tax return or an extension by the due date (usually April 15). The not filing penalty is higher than the not paying penalty.
Review and IRS tax payments options on how to pay you taxes.

State Income Taxes

Review this guide if you need to (or want to) file a state tax return: 

Tax Buzz
What To Do Guide
Action Item(s)
All the points listed above apply more or less to your state income taxes as well.

After Your Tax Return Has Been Submitted, Mailed, or e-filed

Find out what to do after you submit your tax return: 

Tax Buzz
What To Do Guide
Action Item(s)
After you have e-filed your return, monitor your emails, check your account, and/or your tax refund status.
Make sure your tax refund will be directly deposited into your account or mailed to the address on your tax return.
Download your completed tax return from your account (under My Account) and keep it for your records. If you did not file your return on (or even if you did), you may obtain a free transcript of your return from the IRS.
Click here if you prepared and efiled via
Get an IRS tax return transcript regardless where you prepared and filed.
Need to make a change to an efiled or filed return? You will need to complete and file an amended tax return.
Know what to do in case you get audited.

If all of this is overwhelming for you, simply create a free account on and start the tax interview process by answering simple questions. We make it easy for you so you don't have to worry about too many of the sometimes complicated tax law details. You can monitor your preliminary federal or IRS and state tax return as you go through the process. Before you actually efile your tax return, make sure you check for errors and overall results or contact one of our Taxperts if you have questions.



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