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We have recently become aware of companies and/or organizations who are calling people using the generic name "Tax Relief Center" for their phone solicitation activities. TaxReliefCenter.org does not make these automated calls to consumers and it is our policy not to engage in this form of marketing.If you have received such a call, please let us know by emailing [email protected] so that we may report this unauthorized activity.
Additionally, the IRS does not use email, text messages or social media to discuss tax debts or refunds with taxpayers. The IRS initiates most contacts with taxpayers through regular mail delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. There are special circumstances when they may reach out via phone regarding overdue tax bills or delinquencies, but almost always only after they’ve already sent a letter first.
UPDATE: Recently we have learned of instances where consumers are also getting automated calls regarding “unpaid taxes”. Do not respond to these calls as the IRS will typically send letters or notices via U.S. mail. So, if any company or organization calls claiming you have unpaid taxes, DO NOT respond to these unsolicited calls.

What Is Income Tax Preparation?

What is income tax preparation? Unfortunately, most of us only have a vague idea or plan. However, tax preparation doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, there are tools you can use for your tax preparation. In this article, we present you with the basics of tax preparation. That way, you don’t have to feel stressed when tax season arrives.

What Is Income Tax Preparation? | What You Need to Know


1. What Is Tax Preparation?

What is Tax Preparation | What Is Income Tax Preparation? | learn how to do your own

Tax preparation usually refers to the process of preparing tax returns — usually income tax — by a person other than the taxpayer. This method is chosen by the taxpayer in the hopes of receiving greater compensation or returns. Taxpayers can prepare their taxes through a software, online, or through a licensed accountant or attorney. While you can choose from any of these options, most people seek the services of a tax preparer due to the complex U.S. tax structure.

Do You Qualify For IRS Back Tax Relief? Take The Quiz Now!

2. Who Can Prepare Your Tax Return?

Although you yourself can prepare your own tax return, you also have the option of using the services of another individual. In fact, if you trust them enough, even a relative or a friend can do your tax returns for you via a tax software or online. However, as mentioned earlier, most people prefer to use the services of a tax preparer when it comes to dealing with their taxes. Remember, a professional tax preparer should have a PTIN or a Preparer Tax Identification Number granted by the IRS.

Who are the commonly hired tax preparers?

  • An Accountant — A licensed Certified Public Accountant can provide tax services to any individual or business. Most CPAs specialize in tax preparation and advisory services.
  • An IRS Enrolled Agent — This is an individual who works with the IRS. Their job includes representing taxpayers to the IRS in tax auditing matters and the filing of documents, among other responsibilities. However, bear in mind that an enrolled agent cannot represent you in tax court. This is because only a lawyer or individual who passed a “Tax Court Exam For Non-Attorneys” can represent you in tax courts.
  • Attorneys — An attorney is a licensed lawyer who has passed the bar exam. Some attorneys even specialize in tax preparation and planning.

3. What Information You Need to Gather

What Information Do You Need To Gather | What Is Income Tax Preparation? | how to do taxes for the first time

This is one of the most tedious parts of the tax preparation process and involves many documents you need to have obtained by the end of January. When compiling these documents, ensure the information on the forms matches your personal records.

Your required documents may include the following forms:

  • Form SSA-1099 from your Social Security.
  • 1098 forms can represent mortgage interest, tuition payments (1098-T), and student loan interest (1098-E).
  • Form W-2G represents gambling winnings.
  • Form 1099 can be a cancellation of debt (1099-C), non-employee compensation paid to independent contractors (1099-MISC), or dividends (1099-D).
  • W-2 from your job.
  • Form 1095-A from government Marketplace, where you bought health coverage.


How to Prepare the Income Tax Return

 1. Select a Preparer

Select a Preparer | What Is Income Tax Preparation? | how to do taxes yourself step by step

The government approximates that around 60% of Americans do not prepare their taxes on their own. From this, we can deduce that most individuals use the services of a tax preparer to do their taxes for them. If you’re one of these individuals, you need to choose who is going to aid you in preparing your tax return.

Be sure to ask for preparer recommendations from friends and family. Again, you want to make sure that your preparer has a PTIN or a Preparer Tax Identification Number. This ensures that the person you’re dealing with is an authorized tax preparer. The IRS also offers a directory to help you in your search.

Do You Qualify For IRS Back Tax Relief? Take The Quiz Now!

2. Collect Your Receipts

Collect Your Receipts | What Is Income Tax Preparation? | how to do taxes yourself step by step

Knowing what receipts to collect will depend on whether you want to itemize personal deductions over the standard deduction. A sure way of determine which is better for your write-off is to calculate your number of personal deductions and compare it with the standard deduction.

If you do choose to itemize your personal deductions, you should gather the following receipts:

  • Receipts for medical costs not covered by health insurance or health plan.
  • Investment or job-related expenses.
  • Property taxes.

If you have a business, you have to share your company’s books and records. Some examples of these may be receipts from expenses, statements from banks and credit cards, and similar documents.

3. Prepare Your Last Year’s Return

Prepare Your Last Year’s Return | What Is Income Tax Preparation | learn how to do your own

When you employ the same preparer, your last year’s return will most likely be on hand. If you employ a new preparer, the old return will probably come in handy, guaranteeing that obvious returns aren’t missed. For example:

  • You may have contributed to charities and did not receive acknowledgment. You may still deduct these contributions as long as you have proof, like canceled checks. Look to see whether you made similar contributions this year from last year’s contributions.
  • Interest and dividends. Look for 1099s this year, if you received these types of income last year.


Want to know more about income tax preparation? Watch this video from MyFirstHomeNetwork:

Income tax preparation can be a tedious task when you do it on your own. This is one of the reasons why most Americans choose to employ the services of a tax preparer. However, even if you seek the help of a preparer, you should not depend exclusively on them. After all, what a preparer uses for your tax returns all depends on what you provide to them.

What is income tax preparation in your household look like? Have you obtained the services of a tax preparer to do your tax returns? Let us know in the comments below!

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