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Preparing my tax return for the first time
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How can you file your tax return?

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Either.
You can file your tax return by mail or online. Online tax-prep software can walk you through the process and help you file.

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True or False: If you file a federal income tax return, you're exempt from filing a state income tax return.

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False. You may pay state and federal taxes, so you may need to file a tax return for both. Remember, some cities or other localities require that you file tax returns with them as well.

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Key Takeaways

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  • If you have a fairly simple financial picture, you may be able to use the IRS Form 1040EZ
  • Get to know your Form W-2. It’s what both your employer and the IRS use to match up what you reported as wages and what’s been withheld from your paycheck
  • If you are single, under 65, and earned more than $10,300 (based on 2015 tax year) you generally need to file a tax return. However, if your parents claim you as a dependent, you may need to file if you earned more than $6,300 or had unearned income greater than $1,050 (based on 2015 tax year)
  • Collect your Forms (Forms 1099 or 1040EZ, W-2) and receipts throughout January and February. Plan according and know your deadlines to avoid any penalties
  • The IRS offers free online tax-prep software if your adjusted gross income is under a certain limit