April 15 is not the only day of the year that Americans pay taxes. If you're a wage or salaried employee, then a portion of your earnings are withheld every pay period to cover federal income tax, state and local taxes, and Social Security and Medicare contributions. In fact, when tax day rolls around, the IRS estimates that 70 percent of American taxpayers will get a refund [source: Huddleston]. After all of the deductions, exemptions and credits are added up, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to pay them back some of the money it withheld during the year.
If you're one of those lucky people getting a refund, you might want to bring your bank account information with you to the tax preparer's office. Instead of mailing you a check, the IRS can refund your money as a direct deposit to your bank account. All of the necessary information -- bank name, routing number and account number -- can be found on one of your checks.
If you belong to the other 30 percent of taxpayers who owe money to the IRS on April 15, then you should come prepared to make a payment. The IRS is happy to accept your tax payment in whatever form is most convenient: check or money order, credit card, or a direct debit from your bank account [source: Internal Revenue Service]. Remember that if you are married and filing jointly, you will need to bring your spouse to the tax preparer's office, too, because he or she will need to co-sign the tax return before mailing it off to the IRS.
For lots more information on tax returns, refunds and the IRS, see the links below.
Last editorial update on Jan 16, 2019 01:00:07 pm.
- H&R Block. "Tax Preparation Checklist." (Jan. 18, 2012.) http://www.hrblock.com/offices/tax-preparation-checklist.html
- Internal Revenue Service. "Dependents & Exemptions." (Jan. 18, 2012.) http://www.irs.gov/faqs/faq/0,,id=199708,00.html
- Internal Revenue Service. "Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers." (Jan. 18, 2012.) http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=107626,00.html
- Internal Revenue Service. "General ITIN Information" (Jan. 17, 2012.) http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=222209,00.html
- Internal Revenue Service. "Publication 547" (Jan. 19, 2012.) http://www.irs.gov/publications/p547/ar02.html
- Internal Revenue Service. "SOI Tax Stats — Tax Stats at a Glance" (Jan. 18, 2012.) http://www.irs.gov/taxstats/article/0,,id=102886,00.html
Many Americans don't think about their tax bills until the new year. But there are things you need to do before Dec. 31 if you want to pay less later.