Filing your tax return can seem like a daunting task, but with a little preparation and understanding of the process, it can be a relatively straightforward process. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to file your 2018 tax return, along with answers to some frequently asked questions.

1. Gather your documents: Before you begin, gather all the necessary documents such as your W-2 forms, 1099s, receipts for deductible expenses, and any other relevant financial records.

2. Choose your filing method: You can choose to file your tax return electronically using tax software or manually by filling out the paper forms. Electronic filing is generally faster and more accurate.

3. Determine your filing status: Your filing status determines your tax rate and eligibility for certain deductions. Common filing statuses include single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.

4. Calculate your income: Add up all your sources of income, including wages, self-employment earnings, interest, dividends, and any other taxable income. Keep in mind that some types of income may be tax-exempt.

5. Claim your deductions: Determine whether you will take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions. The standard deduction for 2018 is $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Some common itemized deductions include mortgage interest, state and local taxes, medical expenses, and charitable contributions.

6. Complete the appropriate forms: Based on your filing status and income, complete the appropriate tax forms. The most common form is the 1040 for individual taxpayers. Be sure to include all necessary schedules and attachments.

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7. Double-check your work: Carefully review your tax return to ensure accuracy. Mistakes can lead to delays in processing or even an audit. Pay particular attention to your personal information, income, deductions, and credits.

8. Submit your tax return: If you are filing electronically, follow the instructions provided by the tax software. If you are filing by mail, make copies of your tax return and all supporting documents before sending them to the appropriate IRS address.


1. When is the deadline for filing my 2018 tax return?
The deadline for filing your 2018 tax return is April 15, 2019. However, if you need more time, you can file for an extension until October 15, 2019.

2. Can I file my tax return for free?
Yes, there are various options available for free tax filing, especially if you have a simple tax situation. The IRS offers Free File software for individuals with an income below a certain threshold, and some commercial tax software providers also offer free filing options.

3. What if I can’t pay the full amount of taxes I owe?
If you can’t pay the full amount of taxes you owe, it is still important to file your tax return on time to avoid penalties for late filing. You can then work with the IRS to set up a payment plan or explore other options such as an offer in compromise.

4. Can I claim deductions for student loan interest?
Yes, you can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest paid during the tax year, subject to income limitations.

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5. What if I made a mistake on my tax return?
If you realize you made a mistake on your tax return, you can file an amended return using Form 1040X. It is important to correct any errors as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

6. Can I e-file my tax return if I am self-employed?
Yes, self-employed individuals can e-file their tax returns. However, they may need to use specific forms such as Schedule C to report their business income and expenses.

7. Am I required to file a tax return if I had no income?
If your income is below a certain threshold, you may not be required to file a tax return. However, it is recommended to file even if you had no income to claim any potential tax credits or refunds.

8. Can I claim my adult child as a dependent?
In some cases, you may be able to claim your adult child as a dependent if they meet certain criteria such as age, residency, and income limitations. Consult the IRS guidelines or a tax professional for specific details.

Filing your tax return may seem complex, but by following these steps and understanding the FAQs, you can successfully complete the process. If you have any specific questions or concerns, it is always advisable to consult a tax professional or contact the IRS for assistance.

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