Preparing for Tax Season 101: Learning the Basics

Knowing the basics regarding tax preparation can save you time and stress as you gear up to file your taxes this year. Deadlines, filing locations, and refund options are just a few items we want to make sure you have down.

Tax Season Need to Know Dates

For the 2017 tax year, the IRS is giving the official green light to file taxes on January 29th, 2018. Electronic tax returns will also be accepted on this day. Some taxpayers claiming certain credits may actually have to wait until mid-February to receive their return due to the IRS instituting the new Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).

This year, you must have your taxes filed by April 18th, rather than the usual April 15th deadline. The IRS has decided to do this because April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Monday is Emancipation Day, which is a legal holiday observed in Washington D.C., which therefore means the filing date is affected across the nation.

Now that you are well aware of the time frame you have to complete your taxes, we have to discuss the possibility none of us really want to think about: missing the tax deadline. In the event this happens to you, there is good news and bad news. Let’s start off with the good: if you missed the deadline and are owed a refund there is no penalty. The government will hold onto your money for a little longer interest-free, and you do have up to three years to file. Ok, we have to talk about the bad, unfortunately. If in fact you do end up owing taxes, you likely cannot file an extension and are in danger of incurring penalties on a monthly basis. With this said, it is very important to make sure filing dates stay top of mind throughout the year.

Where Can I File My Taxes?

There are a few options you can use to file your taxes. Some people choose to file electronically via purchasing software, some will hire a professional Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Enrolled Agent (EA), others will choose the more popular method of filing at a tax preparation chain. Another option is self-preparing your taxes and mailing them in. You can learn what forms to use, which address to send it to based on the state you live in, and more helpful information by logging onto this Where to File Tax Return page. For taxpayers that qualify for free tax preparation help, the IRS website also offers a wealth of information. Whichever choice you decide, you should always double-check to make sure that your taxes are handled correctly. It is also not a bad idea to make copies of all of your documents to properly store away for your records.

Choosing which Refund Option Is the Best for You

There are about two refund options to choose from once you have filed your taxes. The first one is direct deposit. It takes a few days or so, depending on your banking institution and state refund cycle, for the refund to be deposited in your checking account, savings account, or ACE Flare™ Account by MetaBank®*. The next option is to have your refund check mailed. The Flare Account allows you to have your refund in hand faster than a paper check.1

To receive your tax refund in the Flare Account, you will need your Flare Account number and routing number. Once you have signed up for the account, you can easily retrieve this information by logging into your account.