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If you watched the big football game a couple of weeks ago, you probably saw several ads for tax preparation software.

Yes, it's that time of year, again. Taking care of your taxes can seem daunting, but there are really only a few things you need to do.

Here are the steps you should take, including a few that will make next year's tax filing even easier!

Gather your documents

The first step in prepping for tax season is to gather all the necessary documents. Depending on your personal circumstances, these can include:

  • W-2 forms
  • 1099 forms
  • Receipts and invoices
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Investment statements
  • Business income and expenses
  • Other miscellaneous income

While many of these documents have arrived via snail mail in the past month or so (usually with "Important Tax Information" printed on the envelope), some may have come through your email. Make sure you check your spam folder and your inbox thoroughly for those documents.

Organize your finances

Store all your documents and receipts in a folder, binder or digital file so you can access them whenever necessary. This will help ensure you don’t miss any deductible expenses.

Prepare your personal information

In addition to your income information, you’ll need the Social Security number and date of birth of each dependent you claim. It’s a good idea to have this info, and any other details your tax preparer will need, ready before you start your return.

Review tax law changes

The tax code changes every year, and some of this year’s modifications may impact your tax situation. Be sure to review the most recent updates so you can take advantage of any new deductions or credits. An accountant or certified tax preparer can help you figure this out!

Determine your filing status

Your filing status determines the tax rates and the standard deduction you’re eligible to take. Choose the status that best fits your situation. The most common filing statuses are:

  • Single
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately
  • Head of household
  • Qualifying widow(er)

Learn the deadlines

It’s important to be aware of tax filing deadlines. For most individuals, the deadline to file federal income taxes is April 15th. This year, April 15 is on a Monday.

Choose your filing method

You can file a paper tax return and mail it to the IRS, use tax prep software like TurboTax or H&R Block, hire a professional tax preparer or e-file your return on your own. The fastest way to file (and get any refund you owe) is to e-file. As a CommonWealth One member, you can receive a discount with savings of up to 20% on TurboTax federal products and up to $25 on H&R Block in-office tax prep services. Click here to learn more!

Plan for next year

Finally, use the tax season as an opportunity to plan for the future. First, make sure you keep the list of all the documents you used from this year. That way, next year, you can use that list to ensure you have everything ready and don't forget about something.

Then, consider adjusting your tax withholding to avoid owing large sums at tax time or receiving large refunds. While a large refund may be fun to receive, the money you get back is usually because you were overpaying taxes during the rest of the year. That money could have served you better in your wallet, not in Uncle Sam's. If you do get a large refund, be smart about it! Use it only to buy something you really need, save it in your emergency fund or invest it.

Wondering if lifestyle changes might help your financial situation improve this year? Join the upcoming free seminar with CommonWealth One Financial Network Advisor Timothy States, "Managing Your Lifestyle," on February 28 at 2:00 p.m. and February 29 at 11:00 a.m. You can sign up free at


Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. (SAI) member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. (SAA). SAI and SAA are separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, product and services referenced here are independent of SAI/SAA. Timothy C. States, Investment Advisor Representative. CommonWealth One Financial Network. Not NCUA Insured. No Credit Union Guarantees. May Lose Value. TurboTax Offer: Visit for TurboTax product guarantees and other important information. Limited time offer for TurboTax 2023. Savings are on TurboTax federal products only. Terms, conditions, features, availability, pricing, fees, service and support options subject to change without notice. Intuit, TurboTax and TurboTax Online, among others, are registered trademarks and/or service marks of Intuit Inc. in the United States and other countries. Other parties' trademarks or service marks are the property of their respective owners. H&R Block Offer: Void if sold, purchased, or transferred and where prohibited. No cash value. Valid at participating U.S. offices only. A new client is an individual who did not use H&R Block or Block Advisors office services to prepare their 2022 tax return. Discount valid only with or for preparation of an original 2023 personal income tax return. Coupon must be presented prior to completion of initial tax interview. Discount may not be combined with any other offer or promotion. Expires October 15, 2024. OBTP#13696-BR ©2023 HRB Tax Group, Inc.

Information is valid as of publication date and rates are subject to change without notice. Click here to view current deposit rates and current loan rates

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