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USAGov’s Five Tips for the 2021 Tax Season

Date: February 11, 2021

As the tax season approaches, you may have questions about filing your federal, state and business taxes in 2021. Economic Impact Payments, tax credits and other relief provided in 2020 have many people wondering how to file during the pandemic. Use USAGov’s tax season guide to understand the initial steps you need to take to successfully file by the April 15 deadline.

Five tips to kick off the 2021 tax season:

  1. Gather all required forms

  2. File online with ease

  3. Report unemployment benefits

  4. Know the Taxpayer Bill of Rights

  5. Understand where to go for tax help

Tip 1: Gather all required forms.

Collecting your tax documents is an important first step to filing your tax returns. These records include W-2s, 1099s, receipts, canceled checks and other income documents. Understand what forms you may need and access them online from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), order over the phone or receive them in your community at locations like post offices and libraries.

Tip 2: File online with ease.

The IRS gives you the helpful tools to file your taxes online. You can also receive your refund faster by signing up for direct deposit. Access the IRS Free File tool to see if you can start your tax return electronically. If you meet certain income requirements, you may qualify for free tax return preparations. 

Tip 3: Report unemployment benefits.

Millions of people received or are receiving unemployment benefits because of the ongoing pandemic. These benefits are taxable and must be included in your federal tax return. However, Economic Impact Payments, also known informally as stimulus checks, are not taxable and don’t need to be not included in your gross income. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant to find answers to questions specific to your circumstances.

Tip 4: Know the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

As a taxpayer, you have rights when dealing with the IRS. Keep the Taxpayer Bill of Rights in mind when you begin to file. You are entitled to things like your privacy, confidentiality and never paying more than the correct amount of tax. 

Tip 5: Understand where to go if you need more help with your taxes.

Find answers to your questions about state-specific taxes, when you can receive your refund, navigating recent tax law changes, and more with these helpful resources:

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