You’ve got that job and taxes were paid through withholding. That’s it, right?


Although there are some folks who don’t have to pay taxes, if you make any kind of real income at all, you’re probably not one of them. And while the bulk of your tax bill probably is paid through withholding, you still must file a return to determine the exact amount of your taxable income and your final tax bill.

The filing process is the tax experience most of us are familiar with, and the one we dread every year — even when we get a refund. It doesn’t matter how complicated or easy your tax situation is; the Internal Revenue Service still wants to hear from you and review your documentation.

So what exactly does filing entail? You have to decide which return to file (you have three choices), what status to file under (there are five), which deduction method to use (standard or itemized) and then compute exactly how much of your money the IRS will collect. And you only have a limited time to do all this!

Take a breath. Tax filing does require some (OK, maybe a lot of) work on your part. But also consider this: Filing a tax return is the only way you can get money back if you’re entitled to a tax refund.