Article by on April 10, 2012, last modified on August 26, 2013



This document is for personal reference only, and only partially covers some basic aspects of taxes.


I am not affiliated with the IRS and this document is not an authoritative source for filing your tax documents (see for that). Thus, I'm not liable for anything you do or do not do. All that said, hopefully this document will help feed your own research on how to file your tax documents. Also, I copied some of the text directly from the IRS site, but most of it I re-worded and condensed.

Progress of this Document

This document is a work in progress. It is intended to be a document I will revise when I have time and adding to it what I don't want to forget for next year's taxes.

The Options for Filing

Option 1: File Yourself

Filing yourself often isn't the best idea. Especially when you check your work by also filing using software and realize you would have received a significant refund instead of having to pay. Since filing taxes is a responsibility of every citizen it would only be appropriate that every person knew how to do it. However, taxes are far more complicated than they should be and I doubt the IRS would forgive you because you simply couldn't figure it out.

Option 2: File Using Software

There are many options out there.

Option 3: Pay a Tax Preparer

This is a great option. Build a relationship with someone in your community who does taxes. The value of not having to even touch your tax documents plus the relationship is worth the money.


Federal forms:

Forms to Include

  • 1040 (or 1040 EZ or whichever 1040 you file)
  • W2 (one from each employer, and use the one that says "Federal Filing Copy")

Forms Not Needed to  Include

  • 1098-E (the institution will have already sent a copy to the IRS) [1]
  • 1099-INT (unless it shows federal tax withheld, though I'm not sure that happens with interest) [2] [3]
  • 1099-MISC (unless it shows federal tax withheld) [2] [3]


  • You will not have a penalty for not having enough taxes withheld if in the previous year you owed $0 or had a return.

Other Information

NAICS Search:


Map with links to state forms:

Forms to Include

  • 1040 (or  whatever number the income tax form is; Kentucky is 740, for example)
  • W2 (one from each employer, and use the one that says "Federal Filing Copy")


  • Find if you need to file municipal or school district tax forms (for Ohio use "The Finder")
  • If you are moving states, be sure to file the partial-resident tax form if the state has one.
  • If you are moving states, be sure to deduct from the taxable income what was not made while you were in that state. (How that breaks down, I'm not sure.)


  • You will not have a penalty for not having enough taxes withheld if in the previous year you owed $0 or had a return (at least in Ohio, check with your state).


Local taxes are pretty hairy because not only were their websites made in the 90's but their documentation is ambiguous and incomplete. To find a city or local tax department you can do one of two things: (1) find a website that lists them (such as for KY or for OH) and then search for the tax or revenue department on the site, or (2) google "<city> tax forms." There is a good chance the former is more effective because city and local websites do not show up very high in search engines.

Printing Forms Yourself

Assume the federal requirements are the most strict and will work for all other governments. For federal, all documents must be readable by OCR software. If you keep that in mind, then knowing how to print your forms and on what to print them make sense. If you want to be super precise, their OCR machines are the Scan-Optics Series 9000 and Flint J-6983.

Main Points

  • 18-20lb (75 g/m^2) paper weight (basis weight 17 x 22-500) ± 5%
  • 80% brightness/whiteness
  • The paper must consist substantially of bleached chemical wood pulp. It must be free from unbleached or ground wood pulp or post-consumer recycled paper.
  • Vertical rules must be parallel to the left edge of the document, horizontal rules to the top edge
  • 0.0038 (0.097 in metric) paper thickness [they didn't say what unit of measurement]
  • Dirt should not exceed 8 parts per million
  • Place all schedules and extra forms after the 1040
  • Place all supporting documents (W2's, 1099's, etc) in the front
  • ONLY include the necessary documents (yes, you will have to do some researching to find out which specific pages).
  • Be sure to use all uppercase letters where needed. Some states require this. TurboTax had everything camel case, so you probably don't have to worry about it.
  • Do not enter "0", just leave the line blank (that's what TurboTax does).

Do Not [1]

  • Do not use a felt tip marker.
  • Do not use dollar signs ($), ampersands (&), asterisks (*), commas (,), or other special characters in the numbered money boxes. Exception 1: Use decimal points to indicate dollars and cents (for example, 2000.00 is acceptable). [2] Exception 2: TurboTax used comma's on federal and a period, like "3,154.", but used no period or comma in my state tax.
  • Do not use apostrophes (’), asterisks (*), or other special characters on the payee name line.
  • Do not fold forms. Folded documents cannot be moved through the IRS' processing machines very well.
  • Do not staple forms. (Same reason.)
[1] See Sections 1.3 and 2.1 of Publication 1179

Payment Methods

You can:

  • Pay with check.
  • Pay with money order.

You cannot:

  • Pay with credit/debit (however, some state taxes allow this).


Further Reading

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