BOSTON (CBS) – I want you to know there are no tax fairies to help you. You are on your own. Whether you do your taxes yourself or have someone else do them, only you can do the prep work involved.

The IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman reported that there had been about 3,500 tax changes since 2000, including the tax measures passed last year.

Mentally prepare yourself for working on the taxes. Set aside some time for the task. And even if you have someone else do your taxes for you, you will need to organize your stuff.

Here are some suggestions to get a jump-start on your taxes:

  • Gather up all of your paperwork. Make sure you have everything you need, including W-2s and 1099s. Your receipts, cancelled checks and anything you need to prove a deduction.
  • Get the forms you’ll need. The IRS will not be sending out forms. They are looking to save money so you will have to get your hands on some if you are not doing your return online. Your local Post Office and library may have the forms you will need. The IRS is encouraging e-filing.

The forms are also available from the IRS in their Forms and Publications section. If you don’t want to print them out you can order them online or call 800-829-3676.

  • Take your time. Break the job down into easy steps if you find it intimidating. Rushing can mean a mistake — and that can be expensive! Each of the forms will give you a rough estimate on how long it will take you to fill out that form.
  • Double-check your math and Social Security number. The most common mistakes on tax returns are incorrect Social Security numbers, poor addition or subtraction and forgetting to sign your return.
  • E-filing is easy. E-filing catches math mistakes, provides confirmation your return has been received and gives you a faster refund. The IRS wants you to file your taxes online. They even offer free filing on their website, but you must go thru their website to be eligible for the free filing.
  • Don’t panic. If you have a problem or a question contact the IRS. Give their website a try or call their customer service at 800-829-1040. They don’t always answer in a timely manner but it is a free call……………well sort of free. If you think about it we are paying the taxes that pay those phone bills!

One more thing: Check out the IRS’ 1040 Central.


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