How to fill out IRS tax forms for 2024: IRS templates, valuable tips, and mistakes to avoid

Are you one of those people that enjoy filling out tax forms? Do you stay on top of all IRS form updates, never file too late, and never make mistakes in calculations? Chances are you are not. For most of us tax forms is something we dread, and rightfully so.

Tax forms are confusing and complicated to deal with, partly because you need to fill out a lot of personal information and tax amounts, and partly because of all the calculations and rules that apply to them. It's easy to make a mistake or forget some details and to make matters worse there are hundreds of forms available that the IRS update almost every year.

However, if you follow simple rules, and get qualified help and the right tools, you should be ok with filing your taxes. In this post, we’ll provide links to the latest tax form templates, and your very own PDF editor to fill them out online. We’ll also review helpful tips, and common mistakes to avoid. 

Where to start with filling out IRS tax forms?

To prepare for the tax filing process and avoid typical mistakes, it’s better to start with getting the tax-related documents in order. This way, you will have all the needed information at hand, save time, and double-check all numbers quickly. 

Tax document checklist for 2024 tax filing

Regardless of whether you will file taxes by yourself or with the help of a professional, you will need to prepare your documents in advance. Here is the most universal tax document checklist - however, remember that it depends on your situation.

  • Social Security and/or tax ID numbers for yourself and, if needed, your spouse, children, and other dependants. 
  • IP PIN in case you have it (same for spouse and dependents).
  • Bank account details.
  • Form W2 if you are employed, Form 1099-G if you are unemployed, Form 1099-NEC for contract work.
  • If you are self-employed: all documents and records on your income, expenses, and assets, including Forms 1099, Schedules K-1, Form 1040-ES, credit card statements, and receipts.
  • Mortgage interest statements.

If you claim deductions to reduce your taxable income, prepare all documents and records that will help you to prove expenses, costs and donations: educational expenses, medical bills, property taxes, etc. 

Tips for organizing your tax documents in advance

Could any feeling be more dreadful than not being able to find an essential paper document when you need it most? Happened to the best of us. To avoid the hassle and keep all your personal documents safe, we strongly recommend digitizing them and saving them in one centralized location. Here is how you can do it on your Apple devices with the help of PDF Expert:

  1. Scan all your IDs and personal documents: passports, Social Security, tax ID, and driver's license. PDF Expert allows you to quickly scan any documents and upload them to the cloud storage so you can later access them across all Apple devices. Apart from faster tax filing, having your IDs in digital format can help you in many situations when you need to identify yourself. 
  2. Scan your tax documents if you have any paper ones. This will help you greatly when the next tax season comes and to track your tax activity year over year. 
  3. Convert documents that you have in image or text formats into PDFs that you can store and edit in PDF Expert. 
  4. Compress scanned documents that are too heavy. This way, you will save your storage space without compromising too much on the document quality, and it will be easier to email these PDFs.
  5. Organize your documents for fast search and access. Merge PDFs together: for example, you can combine all your child care receipts into one document and name it ‘Child care 2023’. You can also create folders dedicated to document types or periods. 

What is better: doing your own tax return or hiring a professional?

There are three ways to approach tax filing. 

The first, and easiest one, is to hire a competent tax preparer to file taxes for you. This takes the pressure off your shoulders and provides the added reassurance that everything will be filed in the correct way. 

The big drawback of this method is the cost you pay for the service. Most taxpayers who hire tax professionals say that it's money well spent, as it protects them from potentially costly mistakes. However, it goes without saying that the professional or agency you use should be trustworthy and have a track record of delivering successfully.

The second approach to filling out tax forms is to use dedicated software like H&R Block and TaxAct, which allows you to file your forms online and submit them automatically. Such software providers usually automate some processes (e.g. you can upload a W-2 form and the information from it will be added to other forms) and provide a guarantee that all calculations will be 100% correct. 

The prices for using such software varies depending on the complexity of your tax return situation and could be completely free for simple tax return. We recommend you go through tax software reviews to make an informed choice of the best provider. 

The third approach is to download the IRS forms and fill them out using a PDF editor. This way, you have the freedom to fill out tax forms on your own, in your own time, and without sharing sensitive personal and tax information with anyone. This also allows you to print out task forms and sent them via the postal service if that suits you.

This option is free, secure, and relatively straightforward. Regardless of whether you are a tax novice or a seasoned tax pro, we've listed out a series of steps and helpful tips to make tax filing error-free.

Tips for filling out tax forms on Mac or iPad

When you file taxes on your own, take a no-rush approach and fill out all forms step-by-step:

  1. Make sure you have all documents and forms at hand.
  2. Download the latest version of IRS forms.
  3. Open the form in PDF Expert on your Mac or iPad.
  4. Look through the form and instructions that go with this form (they are usually included in the doc, however, you can always find more detailed instructions on the IRS website). You can also use our simple tax form guides on how to fill out the most popular IRS forms like 1040 or W-2
  5. Start filling out the form line by line. If you are not sure what the term means (e.g. a dividend, a deduction, a dependant) - take your time to Google it or search for it on the IRS instruction pages.
  6. Sign, save, and send out the form OR print it, sign it, and send the physical copy to the IRS.

Common tax mistakes to avoid

The most common mistakes people make when filling out tax forms are fairly simple and easy to avoid:

  • Name misspells or incorrect SSN. Yes, that's simple - just double-check to use the correct Social Security number and match the name on the SSN card.
  • Incorrect amount of wages, dividends, etc. These income amounts are used to calculate credits and deductions, so they need to be precisely correct. Also: double-check all of your calculations. 
  • Choosing the wrong filing status. You can always check what status you need to choose with The Interactive Tax Assistant on
  • Not signing the form. Remember that an unsigned tax return isn't valid and often both spouses must sign a joint return.

What to do with mistakes on tax returns that have already been filed?

Don’t panic! If you need to make an adjustment or change your filing status, income, or deductions, there is a way to do this. You can amend your return by submitting a special Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Note that submitting this form becomes your new tax return instead of the original one. 

All the basic things you need to know about the Tax Season 2024

When is the tax deadline for 2024? 

The filing deadline to submit 2023 tax returns is Tuesday, April 15, 2024, for most taxpayers. We recommend you get ahead of the game, organize your tax records, and file your tax forms in advance. This way, you will have all documents and information prepared and avoid tax mistakes that can lead to processing delays and retained refunds.

You can request a six-month tax extension by sending Form 4868 by April 15, and move the filing deadline to Oct. 15, 2024. Please note that you should pay any owed taxes by your original due date (April 15) to avoid possible penalties.

When can you start filing taxes in 2024?

The 2024 tax filing season begins on January 29, when the IRS will begin accepting and processing returns. This means you can start filing your tax forms on January 29. 

Who is required to file a US tax return?

As a citizen or permanent resident in the US, you need to file a tax return (with some rare exclusion cases):

  • If your gross income is over the filing requirement. These requirements include your age, filing status (single, married, etc.), and income level (from employment, business, investments). 
  • If you have over $400 in net earnings from self-employment (side jobs or other independent work).

For example, if you are under 65 and single, you must file a tax return if your gross income is at least $13,850. If you are under 65 and the Head of a household, you should file if your income was at least $20,800. 

However, even if you earn less than the income threshold, you can still file and get some money back, e.g., if you qualify for a refundable tax credit or made estimated tax payments.  

How do I file a US tax return from overseas?

If you are a US citizen or Green Card holder living abroad, you should go through the same tax filing process as you would in the US. You must report all taxable income from all sources - abroad or in the US. However, there are some differences in filing a tax return from another country:

  1. You can qualify for a special tax benefit called Foreign Earned Income Exclusion or Foreign Housing Exclusion or Deduction.
  2. You should report financial accounts you have in the country of residence to the U.S. Treasury Department (even if they don't generate any taxable income), and report virtual currency transactions to the IRS on your tax returns.
  3. Good news! You are allowed a 2-month extension to file your taxes, meaning that the due date for 2024 moves to June 15. You can still request an extension to October 15 by filing Form 4868.
  4. You can mail your tax return directly to the IRS, use Free File, or e-file through dedicated software.  

If I work remotely, where do I pay taxes?

If you work remotely in one of the US states, depending on the state you live and work from, you may or may not be required to file federal taxes:

  • Some states won’t require to file a tax return (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, and Washington).
  • Some states have a reciprocal tax agreement between themselves, which means that you only have to file taxes in your home state but not the state you work in. 
  • Some states require you to file tax returns in both states - your home and working one. However, you can get a credit for taxes paid in the state where you work but not live. 

If you work remotely outside the US for a US-based company and are a US citizen, you should file a tax return in most cases (see answer above). 

How do I fill out a US tax form?

The process and steps depend on your filing status, the form you will file, and whether you will fill out the form by yourself or use a professional tax preparer service. Overall, you will need to do the following steps:

  1. Prepare all documents you will need for filing (W2 Form or 1099-MISC Form, mortgage interest statements, etc.)
  2. Choose your deduction type (standard or itemized) and filing status (single, married, etc.)
  3. Fill out the form by yourself and send it to the IRS, or do this with the help of a tax preparer. 

Here, you can find detailed guides on filling out IRS tax forms on your Mac. 

Where to download 2024 IRS tax forms?

Always make sure to download the latest version of the form from the IRS website. You can also find their instructions for most of the forms there. 

Alternatively, you can go to our PDF Expert tax form pages and find blank PDF tax form templates, alongside simple instructions:

We know filing taxes can be a bit daunting so we hope this blog helps you with filing your tax forms correctly and reducing your tax filing stress. Don't forget you can rely on PDF Expert to make this process even easier with fast and reliable form filling, signing capabilities, and more. If you have found this blog useful why not share it with friends, family, or colleagues?

PDF Expert does not offer any tax advice, and it is strongly recommended that you seek consultation with a qualified tax expert concerning your specific tax inquiries. To the fullest extent permitted by law, PDF Expert presents this material on an “as-is” basis. PDF Expert hereby disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind, whether express, implied, or statutory, including but not limited to representations, guarantees, or warranties, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.

Yevheniia Dychko Yevheniia Dychko

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