WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It's crunch time for taxpayers to wrap up their federal income tax returns, or in the case of some, to start working on them or think about an extension.
Get started by collecting basic paperwork like this:
- Social security numbers for your loved ones
- Wages and earning statements like W2's
- A copy of last year's tax return
- Bank routing and bank account numbers if you plan to have your refund directly deposited or a payment automatically withdrawn.
When looking for a tax preparer during peak season still take the extra step of vetting that person, like with the Better Business Bureau.
Consumer Reports advises asking preparers for a list of upfront fees. Some will try to tack on extra charges under headings like "processing," or "document preparation."
You may be offered a prepaid debit card so you can start spending a refund more quickly. Be mindful of the fees attached to those cards and if you can, wait for the IRS to directly deposit it in your bank account.
If you decide to crunch the numbers on your own, using tax preparation software can help minimize the risk of those last minute math errors.
Always be sure to work over a secure internet connection.