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The Final Week: Our Essential Cheat Sheet for Filing Your Tax Return This Year

The 2024 tax season is wrapping up, and the IRS has received over 90 million tax returns and refunded a total of nearly $186 billion so far. If you’re looking forward to a refund and you haven’t finished filing yet, time is ticking — you only have until next Monday, April 15. 

This story is part of Taxes 2024, CNET’s coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

Completing your taxes isn’t always easy, especially when you aren’t a tax professional or up to date with the latest tax laws. The rules vary by year and by person, depending on your filing status, age, income and other factors. 

As you navigate the 2024 tax season, use our cheat sheet to help you find all the answers you need. The resources below provide expert advice on tricky tax topics and can help you start your return. 

Hopefully, these resources can help you file with confidence, get the biggest tax refund possible and minimize stress.

Read more: File Early and Get Up to 20% Off Your 2023 Taxes With TurboTax

How to get started with your taxes

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As with most tasks, the hardest part of doing your taxes is starting. You have to gather all your necessary forms (and track down any that are missing), pick a service or software to use and then spend hours completing your return.

No wonder almost a third of Americans wait until the last minute to file, according to a survey from financial services company IPX1031. Filing as early as possible has its advantages to consider.

Here’s some info to help you jumpstart your tax return:

What to know about the child tax credit in 2024

With the child tax credit tax break, you could be eligible for up to $2,000 per child. The rules around which kids qualify and how much money you could get refunded can be confusing, however. Here’s what to know about this benefit.

Form, forms and more tax forms

There are a lot of tax documents: There’s the W-2 your company sends you, assorted 1099 forms for other income, a 1098 form for mortgage interest and many others.

In all, the IRS provides 2,854 different tax forms on its website. Learn about the ones you need in 2024, and what to do if you are missing any.

Review your tax credits and tax deductions

Once you’ve started your return for tax year 2023, make sure you get every penny owed to you. One way to maximize your tax refund is to check all of the potential tax credits and deductions that could lower your tax bill.

Learn the basics of itemizing deductions (or taking the standard deduction), and review all the ways that you can pay less or get a bigger refund.

All about tax refunds

After you’ve finished your 2023 tax return and sent it to the IRS, the waiting begins. Fortunately, the IRS makes it easy to track your return and refund. 

Learn more about how to track your tax refund, whether it’s directly deposited or mailed as a paper check, as well as other tips for getting your money quickly and securely.

What about taxes and Social Security or other government benefits

The rules around taxes and benefits can be baffling. Here are a few guides on what to know about taxes and your government benefits. 

Answers to specific tax questions in 2024

Everyone’s financial situation is unique, but several common quandaries flummox even the most diligent taxpayers.

Here are a few of the more common tax questions for 2024:

How to get help on your taxes

If you can’t find the tax answers you need on your own, don’t despair. There are free resources that can help get your tax return finished and filed. 

Good luck with filing your return. Be sure to check back as we update this list often with more tax explainers and tips for 2024.

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