Reuters

(Reuters)

How to Do Your Taxes Without an Expert

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When deciding whether you should do your own taxes or hire a professional, many people opt for a financial expert to do their accounting. However, if you don’t have many assets, investments or donations, you might be able to do your taxes by yourself without any trouble. Here is a check-list to get you started:

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Organize your forms
Your first step should be gathering your paperwork. You will need items like receipts and canceled checks, along with  proof of income, which includes W-2s from your employer and 1099s from work you’ve done independently.

Determine your AGI (adjusted gross income)
You will need last year’s tax return to calculate your adjusted gross income. Your AGI will determine whether you are eligible for certain tax benefits. Generally, the lower the AGI, the smaller your tax bill.

E-file
Nearly 100 million taxpayers used the e-file service last year, according to the IRS. E-file returns process in less than half the time as paper returns, according to OnLine Taxes.

Free File
E-filing is extremely popular right now. For people making less than $57,000, you may qualify for a free electronic filing program called Free File. As the name suggests, you can prepare and file your federal return free of charge with this program. You can choose between two options: finding a Free File tax software company or using Free File forms.

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Deadline
Make sure you meet the deadline for filing your taxes. If you need more time, you can get a six-month extension of time to file from the IRS. Even if you’ve completed your return, but cannot pay the full amount of tax due, do not request an extension. File your return on time, pay what you can, and the IRS will send you a bill for the amount you owe.

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Direct deposit
By setting up direct deposit, you will receive your refund quickly—generally between 10 to 21 days, according to the IRS. You can begin tracking your refund 72 hours after you e-file or four weeks after you mail your return. All you need to track your refund is your social security number, filing status and refund amount. You can track your refund on through the IRS.

Review official guidance and advice from the IRS
If you have specific questions throughout the process, the IRS is the best place to turn.

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