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A quick guide to filing your tax return

Individuals 01.28.2022 3 MIN

Whether you’re looking forward to a refund, expecting to owe, or not sure what will happen, filing your tax return can feel stressful. To help, we’ve outlined three steps that are essential to getting your taxes filed.

Step 1: Gather your tax documents

When tax season rolls around, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have your paperwork organized. Information and documents you may need to complete your taxes include:*

  • Social Security numbers or tax ID numbers and birthdates for yourself and, if applicable, spouse and dependents
  • Wage and earnings statements, such as W-2s
  • Proof of health insurance
  • The amount you paid any child care providers
  • A record of contributions to tax-deferred accounts
  • If you plan to itemize: Documents that will support your deductions
  • If you have a mortgage: A mortgage interest statement
  • If you have student loans: Statements from your student loan provider detailing how much you paid in interest


Organizations like your employer, banks, and financial and student loan companies are required to send you the necessary forms by January 31 to use when filing your tax returns. 

You may receive some of your statements by mail and others electronically.


Step 2: Prepare your taxes

If you decide to use a tax professional, you’ll still need to pull together the documents in Step 1.

Tax preparers will get busy during tax filing season, so try to get your documents together as soon as possible so you can make an appointment. The longer you wait to get started, the longer it may take them to prepare and file your taxes—and for you to get your refund if you’re getting one.

If you decide to prepare your own taxes, the IRS offers resources and e-Books** on filing Form 1040, the form used to file an individual tax return.

Note: Beginning in tax year 2018, Form 1040A and 1040EZ have now been redesigned into one Form 1040.

There are also many popular tax preparation software packages that can guide you through the process of preparing your taxes. These software providers frequently offer free basic online tax filing services for people who wish to file simple tax returns, however there may be a filing fee.


Step 3: File your taxes

E-filing is the fastest way to submit your return. However, you can also mail your paper return to the IRS.

Remember: If you’re eligible for a refund, how you choose to receive your refund can determine how quickly the money will reach you.


Next steps

Curious what to do with your refund (or how to make sure you won’t owe as much next year)? If your company provides access to Ayco Financial Wellness, work with an Ayco coach.


*Examples provided are not inclusive of all required tax documents. Additional forms may be required based on your individual tax situation.


**Any link to an Internet site sponsored and maintained by a third party is provided solely as a convenience to you, and does not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship, or affiliation by Goldman Sachs or Ayco. Neither Ayco nor Goldman Sachs has reviewed or tested any information, software, or products found on the site, and therefore makes no representations regarding the content or sponsors of the site or the suitability or appropriateness of the products or transactions described therein.


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