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While the deadline to file 2023 taxes isn’t until April 15, 2024,¹ now is a great time to get organized and make some important decisions. This way, you can avoid the headaches, and you won’t need to file your taxes online at the last minute. 

Not sure where to start? We’ll cover what you need to know about how to do your own taxes online, including:

  • Online tax process overview
  • How to file your taxes online for free
  • Other ways to do your taxes online
  • Common tax mistakes to avoid

Let’s dive in!

 

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Online tax process overvew

These are the steps you’ll take to file your taxes online. 

1. Decide how to file your taxes

There are a few ways to file your taxes online: 

  • File with online tax software: Using online tax software is a popular choice for filing taxes, and many platforms offer both free and paid filing options. 
  • Use IRS Free File: IRS Free File offers free online tax preparation software for qualified taxpayers. To qualify, you need an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less.2
  • Use State-specific free filing options: Some states offer their own free e-filing options for state income tax returns. Check your state’s official tax website to see if e-filing is available where you live.

2. Gather all your tax forms and documents

To file your taxes, you’ll need to fill out official forms and documents. While the exact documents and forms required can vary depending on your situation, you’ll generally need at least the following:

  • W-2s for any job you worked as an employee.
  • 1099s for other income, like money you earned as an independent contractor, interest from a bank account, or capital gains from a house sale.
  • Mortgage interest and property tax statements.
  • Retirement account contributions.
  • Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents.
  • Last year’s federal and state tax returns.
  • Receipts for educational expenses, unreimbursed medical bills, and charitable contributions, if applicable. 

3. Write down the 2024 tax dates

For filing your 2023 taxes in 2024, you’ll need to know two key dates: Jan. 23, 20243 (the start of filing season) and April 15, 2024³ (the filing deadline).

Jan. 29, 2024The start of the 2023 tax season is when the IRS begins accepting 2023 tax returns. 
Jan. 31, 2024The due date for employers to send out W-2 forms and for certain 1099 forms to be sent to you (like if you’re an independent contractor or are self-employed). 
April 15, 2024The deadline for filing 2023 taxes for individuals. 
April 15, 2024The deadline for individuals to request a tax extension.

4. Choose between standard and itemized deductions

Take time to understand how deductions work since they can lower your taxable income and potentially give you a larger refund or a lower tax bill. As you file your taxes, you’ll have two options: Take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions.

  • Standard deduction: If you have a 9-to-5 job and will be receiving a W-2, you may be able to take the standard deduction. For filing 2023 taxes, the standard deduction for individuals is $13,850 and $27,700 for married people filing jointly.4
  • Itemized deductions: If itemizing all the deductions you qualify for allows you to deduct above $13,850 (filing single) or  $27,700 (filing jointly), you should itemize. Most tax preparation software and accountants can find the better option for you.

​​In general, you may want to itemize if you own property, run a small business, have major out-of-pocket medical expenses, or made large contributions to charity in 2023.

Chime tip: If you are married, both you and your spouse will need to take the standard deduction or itemize deductions, even if you choose married, filing separately.5

5. Fill out your forms via website or app

After gathering your forms and deciding on a filing method, you’ll be ready to start filling out your required tax forms online. 

You can potentially save time filling out forms by using tax preparation software that guides you through the process. Some will even autofill the information when you upload your tax documents. (We’ll get into some of those options later).

6. File early and sign up for direct deposit

The sooner you file your taxes, the sooner you’ll get your refund – which means more money in your savings account. If you want your cash as fast as possible, set up direct deposit – it’s the safest and easiest way to get your funds (unlike mailing in a paper tax return, which takes time to reach the IRS). 

When filing electronically, you can set up direct deposit with the IRS to have your tax refund deposited directly to your account. 

Get your federal tax refund up to six days early* when you direct deposit with Chime and file directly with the IRS.

How to file your taxes online for free

Some common options to file your taxes online include IRS Free File, online tax software, or utilizing state-specific free filing options. 

An illustration of a laptop and tax return accompany a list of 6 options to file your taxes online.

IRS Free File

IRS Free File is a free tax filing service offered by the IRS. This user-friendly software guides you through the tax preparation process and helps you file both federal and, in some cases, state tax returns at no cost.  

Here’s how it works for the 2023 tax year²:

  1. If your adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less: You qualify for a free federal return, guided preparation, tax filing on an IRS partner site, and state tax preparation and filing for select states.
  2. ​​If your adjusted gross income is above $73,000: You can still use free electronic forms on the IRS website, but you’ll have to prepare and submit your own tax return.

Note: The adjusted gross income (AGI) threshold is $73,000 for the 2023 tax year, regardless of whether your filing status is single or married filing jointly.

Use online tax software 

If you don’t qualify for IRS Free File, consider online tax software – especially if you’re filing your taxes for the first time. These tax software programs simplify filing your taxes online with an easy-to-understand Q&A format that walks you through the process. Paid plans have more benefits; however, most popular options offer a version that lets users with simple tax returns file for free. 

Most online tax software platforms offer both free and paid plans to choose from. While the paid plans come with more features and benefits, the free versions are dependable if your tax situation is fairly straightforward. 

State-specific free filing options

Some states offer free e-filing options for state income tax returns. To find out if your state offers free e-filing, visit your state’s official tax website. From there, you can find information on the available e-filing options, eligibility criteria, and any income thresholds that may apply. 

Other ways to do your taxes online

Other online filing options include using mobile tax filing apps, utilizing programs like VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), or using virtual tax preparation services.  

Download mobile apps for tax filing 

Prefer to file your taxes from your phone? There’s an app for that! Today, several mobile tax apps are available to simplify the filing process. Most of them allow you to upload financial documents and tax forms for you to fill in, making it a handy option for first-time filers. 

You can find tax apps through many providers that offer traditional online tax software – QuickBooks, TaxAct, and TurboTax are examples of providers that offer mobile versions of their tax filing software. 

Utilize VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is a program that provides free tax preparation for people who qualify (generally, you’ll need to earn $60,000 or less per year).6 

With VITA, you can receive free tax assistance from trained volunteers. Whether you need in-person support or prefer virtual assistance, these volunteers can navigate tax complexities and maximize your deductions for free.

Try virtual tax preparation services 

If your tax situation is more complex, consider virtual tax preparation services that connect you with tax professionals online. While there may be a fee, the expertise can be invaluable – especially when claiming tax deductions or credits you qualify for. 

Whether you’re self-employed, have substantial investments, or need personalized tax guidance, virtual tax professionals can help you navigate the complexities of the tax code and maximize your tax refund.

Pro Tip:
You can use both tax credits and tax deductions together to lower your overall tax liability.

Common tax mistakes to avoid

Look out for common tax mistakes that can lead to issues with your tax return. You can avoid most of them by slowing down and double-checking your inputs as you go. 

Five illustrations accompany a list of five common tax return mistakes to avoid when filing your taxes online.

Forgetting to sign and date

One common error is forgetting to sign and date your tax return. Without a valid signature, your return may not be considered filed. To avoid this mistake, double-check that you’ve signed and dated where required before submitting your return. Some tax software will flag if your signature or initials are missing where needed.

Missing deductions and credits

Another frequent mistake is missing out on eligible deductions and credits that could reduce your tax liability. To avoid this, review the IRS’s list of tax deductions and credits

Keep records of your expenses, and consider consulting a tax professional who can identify all potential deductions and credits that apply to your situation. 

Selecting the wrong filing status 

Selecting the wrong filing status can affect your tax liability. To avoid this mistake, review the IRS guidelines on filing status and select the one that best matches your circumstances. 

Filing late 

Filing your taxes late can result in penalties and interest charges. Note the tax filing deadline and ensure you file your return on time. If you need more time, consider requesting an extension. Just remember that this extends the time you have to file, not the amount of time you have to pay any taxes owed. 

Not reporting all income 

Failing to report all your sources of income is a significant error that can lead to IRS inquiries or a tax audit. Keep accurate records of all income sources. This includes income earned from freelance or gig work, investments, and bank accounts that earn interest (like a high-yield savings account). 

When you’re ready to file, double-check that you’ve included all income on your tax return before submitting it. 

Cut the stress out of tax season

For many people, online tax filing is a hassle-free and budget-friendly way to handle your taxes. Check out your options, be mindful of common mistakes, and make sure your return is correct and filed on time. 

You can save money by using free tax filing, but if you have a complicated tax situation, consider seeking out the help of a tax professional. Plus, a certified accountant might be able to find every tax write-off you qualify for – ones you might miss if you’re filing by yourself.

Learn what to do if your tax refund goes into the wrong account.

FAQs about how to do your own taxes online

Still have questions about how to do your own taxes online? Find answers below. 

Is it hard to file your own taxes? 

Filing your own taxes online can be straightforward, especially if you use free online software to complete the forms. However, if you have investments, own a home, or have complex finances, consider seeking the advice of a tax professional who can help you get the right credits and deductions.

What if I made a mistake on my online tax return?

If you realize you made an error on your online tax return after filing, you can usually amend it by filing an amended return (Form 1040-X). Correct the mistake as soon as possible to avoid any potential issues with the IRS.

How do I check the status of my online tax return?

To check the status of your online tax return and refund, you can use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status, and the exact refund amount to access this information.

How long does it take to receive my tax refund when filing online?

The processing time for tax refunds can vary, but if you file your return online and request direct deposit, you can often expect to receive your refund within 21 days. 7 However, this timeline may change depending on the IRS’s workload and any issues with your return.

What happens if I miss the tax filing deadline when filing online?

Missing the tax filing deadline can lead to penalties and interest charges on any taxes owed. If you can’t file by the deadline, you should file an extension through the IRS. This gives you additional time to file your return without any late penalties. 

Chime® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services are provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC. The Chime Visa® Debit Card and the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card are issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit and credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your Card for its issuing bank.

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Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

* Chime does not guarantee timing of refund. Six day refund estimate is based on 2022 tax year filing data. Refund timing estimates are dependent upon timing of complete tax return submission and other requirements.

1 Information from TurboTax’s Every Tax Deadline You Need To Know as of November 6, 2023: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/tax-planning-and-checklists/important-tax-deadlines-dates/L7Rn92V1d

2 Information from IRS’s Electronic Filing Options for Individuals as of November 6, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/filing/e-file-options

3 Information from TurboTax’s Every Tax Deadline You Need To Know as of November 6, 2023: https://turbotax.intuit.com/tax-tips/tax-planning-and-checklists/important-tax-deadlines-dates/L7Rn92V1d

4 Information from IRS’s IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2023 as of November 6, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-provides-tax-inflation-adjustments-for-tax-year-2023

5 Information from IRS’s FAQs as of November 6, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/faqs/itemized-deductions-standard-deduction/other-deduction-questions/other-deduction-questions

6 Information from IRS’s Free Tax Return Preparation for Qualifying Taxpayers as of November 6, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-qualifying-taxpayers

7 Information from IRS’s Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions as of November 6, 2023: https://www.irs.gov/refunds/tax-season-refund-frequently-asked-questions

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