401(k) 2013 via flickr

It's one thing all Americans have in common: paying taxes. If you are thinking of preparing your own taxes this year, One Cent at a Time offers 21 must-knows to consider as you file.

401(k) 2013 via flickr

Don't pay more or less taxes than you really need. Do the math at least twice and review the return before filing.

Double check

Have someone else check your accuracy and calculation if you are doing your own taxes. Print out the copy and cross out the SSN before they check it.

Social Security
DonkeyHotey via flickr

Triple check that your social security number is right. If you enter the wrong one, the IRS can take legal action at your expense.

Joint taxes
Philip Taylor PT via flickr

Always fill tax forms out together if you are married or living with another person. It gives more deductions and less hassle.

Couples exception

In certain circumstances, it is better for couples to file separately. Tax consultants are the best to ask about this.

Michigan Municipal League via flickr

List all the dependents in the house who have been your dependent by the end of the year. Dependents reduce tax your burden.

Deceased spouse

If you're spouse is deceased you will pay fewer taxes than if you were single. It is also possible to receive half of the pension for the rest of your life.

Retirement pension accounts

If you are investing in retirement, mention that in the tax form. It reduces applicable taxes.

Sign and date
qwrrty via flickr

Always sign and date the return if it's not electronic. Unsigned returns are considered not-filed.

bsdfm via flickr

Tax programs allow you to see what you can save by changing certain values around. It's helpful to calculate how much tax you may pay next year.

Stock investments
David Paul Ohmer via flickr

Print out your stock transactions and see if they reduce taxes a little by the actual loss. Only $3,000 in losses can be shown in a calendar year. Losses beyond that can be carried forward to next year's tax return.

x_jamesmorris via flickr

H&R Block recommends to save 3 years of returns, W-2's and 1099 statements. You will need them if the government requires yours in the future.


Mention all your disabilities with medical records to support disability status. You will pay less taxes and avoid an investigation.

Senior Citizen
Fibonacci Blue via flickr

Those older than 65 may be eligible to pay less tax. Check this site to see if you qualify.

alexkerhead via flickr

If there are pending factors, fill your claim out as much as you can and do the rest as soon as possible.

Foreign assets
az1172 via flickr

A heavy penalty can be charged if you don't declare your foreign assets and income.

Standard vs. itemized
401(k) 2013 via flickr

Compare standard and itemized deductions and take whichever gives the most return. It's one of the biggest mistakes to not compare both.

Alan Cleaver via flickr

Include W-2's, 1099, 1099 INT and 1099 DIV forms when applicable. It's important for e-filers to include the tax payer ID for each financial institution. Verify the number is correct.

images_of_money via flickr

It is easier to make an error when there are multiple accounts. Try having all proceeds in one checking account only.


File taxes as early as possible. A lot of money in interest is lost if you file late. You pay for any legal action.

Tax Credits via flickr

Never leave off income. The government is likely to find out, which, means you pay extra money anyway. Even $20 missed can lead to a messy situation.