How to File Your Federal Taxes
How to File Your Federal Taxes
Taxes are due on April 15, 2020. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed many forms, credits, and deductions. Check this page carefully before filing your federal income tax return.
Do I Need to File a Tax Return?
You may not have to file a federal income tax return if your income is below a certain amount. But, you must file a tax return to claim a refundable tax credit or a refund for withheld income tax. Find out if you have to file a tax return.
File a Federal Income Tax Return
In order to file your taxes, you’ll need a few things. First you’ll need to know how much money you made. Then you’ll need to decide whether to take the standard deduction or itemize your return. Finally, you’ll need to submit everything by April 15.
Steps to File a Tax Return
- Gather your paperwork, including:
- A W-2 form from each employer
- Other earning and interest statements (1099 and 1099-INT forms)
- Receipts for charitable donations and medical and business expenses if you are itemizing your return.
- Choose your filing status. Filing status is based on whether you’re married. The percentage you pay toward household expenses also affects your filing status.
- Decide how you want to file your taxes. The IRS recommends using tax preparation software to e-file for the easiest and most accurate returns.
- Determine if you are taking the standard deduction or itemizing your return. The new tax law increased the standard deduction but eliminated some other types of deductions.
- If you owe money, learn how to make a tax payment, including applying for a payment plan.
- File your taxes by April 15.
Find out how to check the status of your tax refund.
Contact the IRS for Tax Help
For the fastest information, the IRS recommends finding answers to your questions online. You can also call the IRS. This option works best for less complex questions. Keep in mind that wait times to speak with a representative may be long.
IRS Mailing Addresses
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides mailing addresses for:
- Tax returns
- Non-return forms
The correct mailing address to use depends on the purpose of contact and the region of the country you are in:
- Paper Tax Returns (with or without a payment)
- Non-Return Forms (applications and payments)
You can also check a tax form’s corresponding instructions for a mailing address.
Get Tax Forms and Publications
If you file your taxes by paper, you’ll need copies of some forms, instructions, and worksheets.
Get Federal Tax Forms
Get the current filing year’s forms, instructions, and publications for free from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Download them from IRS.gov
- Order by phone at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676)
You can also find them in your community for free at
- Post offices
- IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers
New 1040 Form for Seniors
The IRS has released a new tax filing form for people 65 and older (PDF, Download Adobe Reader). It’s an easier-to-read version of the 1040 form. It has bigger type, less shading, and features like a standard deduction chart. The form is optional and uses the same schedules, instructions, and attachments as the regular 1040.
The IRS provides many forms and publications in accessible formats. This includes Section 508 accessible PDFs and Braille or text forms. They also have forms for prior tax years.
State Tax Forms
Download your state’s tax forms and instructions for free.
Tax Filing Deadlines
The deadline to file federal taxes for most taxpayers is April 15, 2020, unless you file for an extension.
Federal and state taxes usually have the same filing deadlines. To make sure you file on time, find out the tax filing due dates in your state. If you do not file and pay your taxes on time, you will be charged interest and a late payment penalty. For taxpayers due a refund, there is no penalty for filing a late return.
Do I Need to Pay Quarterly Estimated Taxes?
You may need to pay quarterly estimated taxes if you’re self-employed or if not enough tax is taken out of your salary or pension. It can also apply to other earnings including alimony, interest, or dividends. Learn how to calculate your estimated taxes, find out when they’re due, and the penalty for underpaying.
Extension to File Your Tax Return
If you can’t file your federal income tax return by the due date, you may be able to get a six-month extension from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This does not grant you more time to pay your taxes.
How to File an Extension
- Fill out IRS Form 4868 (PDF, Download Adobe Reader), the “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”
- On the form, use the instructions for estimating the taxes you owe. Include your payment to avoid paying penalties and interest.
- You typically must file the extension form and your estimated payment by April 15 or by the due date of your fiscal year return.
For a Spanish version of this form, download IRS Form 4868(SP) (PDF, Download Adobe Reader).
Get Your W-2 Before Tax Time
Employers must send you your W-2 by January 31 for the earnings from the previous calendar year of work. This form shows the income you earned for the year and the taxes withheld from those earnings…Read More>>