Congratulations – you’ve filed your tax return! Now what?
Follow these post-filing tax tips to wrap up tax season.
Keep track of the status of your return
You are responsible for making sure your return is accepted if you file electronically. You can have TaxAct send you an email notification when this happens.
Note that e-file acceptance only means that the IRS acknowledges you have filed your return. It does not mean that the return is correct or that the IRS agrees with everything on it.
Where’s my refund?
To check the status of your refund, go to the IRS Where’s My Refund? website.
Have your social security number or taxpayer identification number handy, plus your filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your expected refund to find your return.
The IRS updates the website every day.
What to keep and how long to keep it
Keep most tax records and receipts for at least three years. After that, the likelihood of needing every receipt, note and informational form decreases.
However, before you run all of your older documents through the shredder, make sure to save the following:
- Documents and work papers related to anything the IRS may deem fraudulent. While most returns are considered safe after three years, the IRS can come back to look at fraudulent cases at any time.
- Informational returns for income, such as Form 1099-MISC. Generally, the IRS has six years to notify you that you failed to report taxable income.
- Receipts for assets you still own or are depreciating for tax purposes. This includes your home and any improvements to it, even if you probably won’t have to pay tax on any gain on your home.
- Employment tax records for the last four years.
- Records for worthless securities or bad debts. Keep these records for seven years.
Make next year easier with better organization
Every year, as we slog through piles of receipts and notes, we make promises to ourselves that next year will be different.
Next April, we’ll be so organized that doing our taxes will consist of simply entering the totals into TaxAct and finishing the job early. Or, so we hope.
Better organization doesn’t have to be a pipe dream if you find ways to make it easy.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep better files as you go. Instead of stacking all papers in one spot, separate your documents by category. Keep tax deductible receipts in at least one easy-to-find file and your mileage log in the car (and use it without fail!).
- Automate your financial life. Pay bills online and download your transactions to personal finance software.
- Organize files online. Scan your receipts and upload other documents onto an online service so they’re easy to access when you need them.
What if I need to change my return?
No matter how careful you are, sometimes information you should have included comes out of hiding after you file your return. Unfortunately, once you’ve filed a return, you can’t start over and file a new one. So, what do you do?
Instead, file Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to change items on the return.
Page 1 of Form 1040X shows three columns for the major amounts from your tax return: original amount, net change and correct amount.
You must also attach corrected schedules to Form 1040X as necessary.
Additionally, don’t hesitate to file a Form 1040X when something substantial changes on your return. For example, if you should have paid less tax on your original return, it’s worth the trouble to amend it. If you find you owe more money, or if you find another Form 1099-INT from a bank, it’s better to fix the error yourself than to wait for the IRS to send you a bill with penalties and interest.