Tax Filing 101: Everything You Need To Know

A user filing their taxes with MoneyLion

It’s tax season again, and if you’re filing your taxes for the first time or just need a refresher, we’re here to help.

Filing your tax return is something most Americans have to do every year. And if you’re owed a refund, the sooner you file, the sooner you’re likely to get it.

Here’s everything you should know about tax filing your 2022 taxes this year:

1. Figure out if you have to file

Although most of us have to file a tax return, not everyone has to. If you make under a certain income amount, for instance, or are tax-exempt, you may not need to file a tax return. For 2022 tax returns, if you’re under 65, make less than $12,950 (if filing Single) or $25,900 (if filing Married Filing Jointly), and do not have any self-employment or other income, you don’t have to file a tax return.

2. Know the filing deadlines

Your 2022 tax return is due to the IRS by April 18, 2023. If you need more time to file, you’ll need to file an extension request by April 18. If approved, you’ll have until October 16, 2023 to file your taxes. 

Keep in mind that if you owe the IRS tax money, you still need to pay your bill by April 18 — even if you receive a filing extension.

3. Gather your relevant forms and paperwork

Whether you’re filing online, working with a CPA, or mailing in your tax return, you’ll want to have your documents ready to go. Depending on your situation, these might include:

  • W-2 for employer income
  • 1099-K, 1099-NEC, or 1099-MISC for other income types
  • 1099-INT for interest received from savings or investment accounts
  • 1098 for interest paid on student loans or your mortgage

You may also receive additional tax forms if your situation calls for them. You should also have a copy of last year’s tax return handy, and copies of all relevant expenses you plan to claim. If you have capital gains or crypto transactions, make sure you have copies of this information as well.

4. Determine your tax filing status

Next, you’ll want to figure out your filing status. This is important, because it directly impacts your tax rate and the amount you’ll receive when claiming deductions and credits. There are five main filing statuses, including:

  • Single
  • Married, filing jointly, 
  • Married, filing separately
  • Head of household
  • Qualifying Surviving Spouse

The IRS has criteria you must meet to file as a certain status. Be sure to get familiar with these rules, so you know you’re choosing the right filing status. If you think you qualify for more than one status, or need help determining the right filing status, use the IRS filing status questionnaire tool.

5. Review your eligible tax deductions and credits

Even if you’re working with a tax professional, it’s a good idea to brush up on the credits and deductions you’re eligible to claim. A tax credit reduces your tax bill directly, and if refundable, may even boost your refund. A tax deduction lowers your taxable income, and in some cases, could drop you into a lower tax bracket with a lower tax rate.

If you have a pretty simple tax situation, it may make sense to claim the standard deduction. Most Americans do. But, if you have expenses you want to claim and other deductions you’re eligible for, determine if you’ll save more by itemizing your taxes and claiming these deductions or by taking the standard deduction.

It’s a good idea to review some of the most common tax breaks to make sure you’re not missing out on a benefit you didn’t know existed.

6. Review and file your return

Once you’ve filled out all the required forms and entered all your information, be sure to review your tax return one final time to make sure there are no mistakes. Double-check your personal information to make sure your address and social security number are correct, and review any income forms (like your W-2) to make sure you didn’t accidentally mistype a number.

If everything looks good, it’s time to file, and either pay your tax bill or request your refund. To pay your bill, you can visit the IRS payments portal to submit your payment, along with your state revenue department. If you need more time to pay, you can request a short-term or long-term payment plan from the IRS. You should still pay as much as possible upfront to reduce IRS penalties and fees.

For those getting a refund, make sure you entered the correct bank account information. Double check to make sure the account numbers are correct so that your refund isn’t delayed.

7. Track your refund

Though the IRS normally turns over more than 90% of refunds within 21 days, you’ll want to track your return to ensure it was accepted and keep an eye out for your refund. Refund timeframes may vary as determined by the IRS. 

It’s best to request a direct deposit refund, as a paper check refund can sometimes take months to get to you.
If you need help tracking your refund, use the IRS’s “Where My Refund?” tracker.

8. Get ahead for next year

Keeping your finances organized throughout the year can make filing during next year’s tax season even easier. Hang on to any tax documents you receive, and keep track of receipts for any expenses (like business costs) you encounter. Keep all of these documents in a safe place, so you have them all together during next year’s tax season.

This material is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. You should consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before engaging in any transaction. Information, including hypothetical projections of finances, may not take into account taxes, commissions, or other factors which may significantly affect potential outcomes. This material should not be considered an offer or recommendation to buy or sell a security. While information and sources are believed to be accurate, MoneyLion does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information or source provided herein and is under no obligation to update this information. For more information about MoneyLion, please visit

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