9 Tax Secrets the IRS Really Wants You to Know

Filing your taxes may not be the hardest thing in the world, but the IRS has ways to make it easier.
Updated April 9, 2024
Fact checked
investigator  looking with magnifying glass

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

With a new year comes a new tax-filing season. It’s not necessarily something to look forward to — especially if you think you owe money. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor either. 

There are lots of ways to make the process easier — none of them shady or illegal. In fact, the IRS wants you to know what they are.

Here are nine tips to make filing your taxes easier.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive discounts and financial resources

Over 50? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member you could be missing out on huge perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on things like travel, meal deliveries, eyeglasses, prescriptions that aren’t covered by insurance and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (Do not skip this step!) Doing so will allow you to take up 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Beware of scams

Pixel-Shot/Adobe hacker with laptop and mobile phone

Tax scams aren’t merely a nuisance, they can cause financial ruin. The IRS warns that thousands of taxpayers have been duped out of millions of dollars by scammers.

The IRS will never get in touch with you via email, text, or social media about your finances. Unless you’ve received a notice through the U.S. Postal Service, be extra careful to whom you open your home or business.

Create an IRS account

Tada Images/Adobe IRS logo is seen on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website

Creating an online account with the IRS gives you a bird’s eye view of all your federal tax information. 

You can see what you owe, view your payment plans, access all of your tax records, and authorize a Power of Attorney, which allows your tax preparer to represent you before the IRS, digitally.

Check your tax withholdings

Proxima Studio/Adobe Working on taxes

If you were hit with a big tax bill or you got a big refund last year, this is a good time to consider adjusting your withholdings, especially if you got married, divorced, took on a second job, or if there’s a new baby in the family.

Tax credit amounts can change on an annual basis, so you can use the IRS’s Interactive Tax Assistant to see if you qualify for any that could require an adjustment. And the Tax Withholding Estimator will help you figure out how much your employer should take out.

Even if you like using a large refund every year to boost your bank account, remember that you’re really giving the federal government an interest-free loan with every paycheck instead of taking that money home.

Resolve $10,000 or more of your debt

Credit card debt is suffocating. It constantly weighs on your mind and controls every choice you make. You can end up emotionally and even physically drained from it. And even though you make regular payments, it feels like you can never make any progress because of the interest.

National Debt Relief could help you resolve your credit card debt with an affordable plan that works for you. Just tell them your situation, then find out your debt relief options.1

How to get National Debt Relief to help you resolve your debt: Sign up for a free debt assessment here. (Do not skip this step!) By signing up for a free assessment, National Debt Relief can assist you in settling your debt, but only if you schedule the assessment.

Try it

Get started sooner rather than later

elnariz/Adobe angry man doing his taxes

Organizing your tax materials ahead of time makes actually preparing them much easier and more accurate.

The IRS says you should have the following ready to go before you even start your return: 

  • W-2 forms from your employer or employers
  • 1099 forms
  • 1099-K, 1099-MISC, or other income statements if you were in the gig economy
  • 1099-INT if you were paid interest
  • Any records of digital asset (think crypto and NFTs) transactions
  • 1095-A form from the Health Insurance Marketplace if you used it

File electronically

mehaniq41/Adobe internal revenue service website on the display of PC

There are a whole host of benefits to filing your taxes electronically.

It’s convenient and flexible because you can do it on your own time from home. It also saves time and money because it goes directly to the IRS or state agency, doesn’t need someone to input the data digitally from paper, and it’s much faster than mailing your return.

Simply put, avoid paper tax returns and use the IRS's online e-file options.

File for free

piter2121/Adobe IRS website displayed on smartphone

Many people don’t realize that you can digitally prep and file your individual federal taxes for free. There are a handful of caveats here, however. 

You can get guided advice if your adjusted gross income is $73,000 or less. If your AGI is over $73,000, you can use the IRS’s fillable forms, but there’s no guidance and calculations are limited. Another option is to file for free through an IRS partner.

Use direct deposit

tashatuvango/Adobe keyboard with Tax Refund button

Direct deposit, especially if you combine it with electronic filing, is the fastest way to get your refund. The vast majority of taxpayers — about 80%, according to the IRS — use it for their refunds. It’s also extremely easy.

If you’re filing yourself, select it as your refund method in whatever tax software you’re using; you just need to know your checking account number and bank routing number. Otherwise, just tell your tax preparer you want to have your refund via direct deposit.

And, of course, there’s the IRS’s Where’s My Refund? tool online if you want to track it.

You can still contribute to your retirement account

fizkes/Adobe young couple paying bills online in computer app

If you haven’t contributed to your 2022 retirement account yet, there’s still time to do it. Making a deductible contribution, of course, lowers your tax bill. 

The cutoff for contributions wasn’t Dec. 31. You actually have right up until the April 18 filing deadline. 

Plus, if you’ve exceeded the contribution amount, you can withdraw those excess contributions up to your filing due date and duck the 6% annual tax on excess amounts.

Don’t be afraid to file an extension

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe folder with documents and clock

If tax season still feels terribly overwhelming, don’t fret. You can request an extension from the IRS. That gives you another six months to prepare your federal return, which moves the goal post from April 18 to October 15 (or the next business day if it’s a weekend or holiday).

Bear in mind that an extension doesn’t give you extra time to pay the taxes you owe. The IRS suggests estimating and paying any taxes owed by your usual filing date to avoid possible penalties.

Extension applications need to be in by April 18.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!2

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Bottom line

Gorodenkoff/Adobe couple using laptop computer

The best tax advice is to prepare to prepare. Get organized and do it early, since it might be the most time-consuming aspect of filing. 

Most of your financial documents — W-2s, 1099s, and other statements — should arrive by mail by the end of January. There’s no reason to delay the process once you’ve got them.

And while the standard deduction is the easiest option available to most taxpayers, if you’re getting all your documents together early, consider itemizing. 

If your qualified expenses are bigger than the standard deduction — $12,950 for individuals, $25,900 for married couples filing jointly — you could save even more.

And remember, the deadline for filing your federal taxes or requesting an extension is April 18.

Choice Home Warranty Benefits

  • First month free
  • Protection for unexpected expense
  • 24/7 claims hotline
  • Network of over 15,000 technicians

Author Details

Will Vitka Will Vitka is a D.C. area reporter and writer. He previously worked for WTOP, The New York Post, Stuff Magazine, and CBS News.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt