Believe it or not, the tax season is already here. And whether you’re ready for it, or not, it’s time to start preparing to file your tax return. Here’s what you need to know to get ready. For starters, the tax season officially began on January 19th and it officially ends on April 17th, which is a Tuesday. The reason for the two extra days this year is that the April 15th falls on a Sunday, and Monday is a national holiday, Emancipation Day, so the IRS will be “out of the office” that day.

Important Tax Dates

So, now that you know the most important dates of the 2018 tax season there are several things you need to do to get prepared and be ready to get your taxes done right. First off, despite all the attention given to the new tax reform law none of those changes will affect your taxes this year. That means the old tax laws still apply to your 2017 tax return. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any changes since last year.

Thresholds Have Changed

For example, although the tax brackets remain the same for 2017 as they were in 2016 the threshold values have actually changed. Here are the new numbers so you can see where your income fits in and at what percentage you’re going to be taxed:

Thresholds for Single Filers:

$9,325 for the 10% bracket

$37,950 for the 15% bracket

$91,900 for the 25% bracket

$191,650 for the 28% bracket

$416,700 for the 33% bracket

$418,400 for the 35% bracket

Individuals with taxable income above $418,400 are taxed at the top rate of 39.6%

Thresholds for Married Couples Filing Jointly

$18,650 for the 10% bracket

$75,900 for the 15% bracket

$153,100 for the 25% bracket

$233,350 for the 28% bracket

$416,700 for the 33% bracket

$470,700 for the 35% bracket

Couples with taxable income above $470,700 are taxed at the top rate of 39.6%

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Getting ready for the tax season and actually filing your return requires some important steps, so here are a few tips that will help you get ready and guide you through the filing process successfully.

  • Start gathering – of course, before you can actually file your return you need to gather all the information you’ll need to fill it out. That includes your W-2s, your 1099s, your pay stubs, important receipts, and every other important piece of tax information you’ll need to file. Make sure you have everything you need in one place before you begin your return. You should also be aware of all the forms you need to include in your return and make sure you have them on hand before you start. Knowing how to fill them out is very helpful, as well.
  • File Early and file online – always file as early as you can and make sure you file electronically. If you want to get your refund quickly these are the two most important things to help you do that. Although the IRS will accept paper returns on the same date as electronic returns, January 29, the agency says it’s much faster to do it electronically. In fact, the IRS says those who file their returns electronically receive them as much as two or three weeks faster than those who file on paper. Additionally, by filing your return sooner, you help protect yourself from would-be scammers and identity thieves who might try to steal your refund.
  • Consider all deductions – the IRS offers countless deductions to taxpayers that can lower your taxable income, but they don’t all apply to everyone. However, you want to be sure that you include every possible deduction you qualify for in your return. For example, be sure to count all your charitable deductions and don’t forget about any other possibilities, like medical expenses, home repairs, mortgage interest, and property taxes.
  • Don’t overlook credits – be sure to also remember the numerous credits the IRS offers. Again, you won’t qualify for all of them, but there’s a chance you will qualify for some of them. This is very important because not including a credit you qualify for is like giving away free money.
  • Keep everything together – after you’ve filed your return, you’re not done. Be sure to keep everything in one place, including last year’s return. And make sure to keep it easily accessible. This is helpful in case something unexpected arises, like an audit, or if you have to file an amended return.

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

Filing your taxes can be overbearing, but it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is a little careful planning and preparation and you can get your taxes done right the first time. Just follows these helpful tips to file your taxes successfully. As for next year, well, things are going to change a lot. But that’s’ a whole other story.