This story is part of Taxes 2023, CNET’s coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.
Filing taxes is not easy, especially when you aren’t a tax professional or up to date with the latest tax laws. Depending on your filing status, age, income and other factors, tax rules vary from year to year and from person to person.
Our cheat sheet can serve as your guide as you navigate the 2023 tax season, with instructions to find the answers you need. These resources cited below can help you start your return and provide expert advice on tricky tax topics.
So don’t fret — we did the heavy-lifting so you can file with confidence, get your biggest tax refund possible and get back to enjoying your life.
How to get started with your taxes
As with most tasks, the hardest part of doing your taxes is starting. You’ve got 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. But there are good reasons to file as early as possible.
Here’s some info to help you jumpstart your tax return:
- What Are the Tax Deadlines for the 2023 Tax Season?
- How to Create an Online IRS Account and Why You Should
- 7 Good Reasons to File Your Tax Return Early
- How to File Your Taxes With a Phone or Tablet
- All the Ways You Can File Taxes for Free
- The Best Tax Software for 2023
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 2,731 different tax forms on its website. Learn about the ones you need in 2023, and what to do if you are missing any.
- What Is a W-2 Form and What to Do If You Haven’t Received Yours
- All the Different 1099 Tax Forms Explained
- Venmo and Cash App Income: Will You Get a 1099-K?
- How to Scan Important Tax Documents With Your Phone
Review your tax credits and tax deductions
Once you’ve started your 2022 tax return, 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.
- How to Choose Between the Standard Deduction and Itemized Deductions
- Biggest Tax Credits Boost Your Tax Refund Even if You Don’t Itemize
- What Is the Child Tax Credit and Who Qualifies for It?
- All the Possible Tax Credits and Deductions for Homeowners
- Green Tax Breaks Give Money Back for Energy Efficiency
- Can You Deduct COVID-19 Expenses on Your Taxes?
- Tax Changes in 2023: Everything New This Tax Season
All about tax refunds
Once you’ve finished your 2022 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 if it’s directly deposited or mailed as a paper check, as well as other tips for getting your money quickly and securely.
- Where’s My Tax Refund? How to Track Your IRS Money
- How to Track Your Tax Refund Check in the US Mail
- Get Your Tax Refund Faster With Direct Deposit
- How to Get Your Tax Refund Two Days Early
- How to Protect Your Tax Refund From Identity Theft
Answers to specific tax questions in 2023
Everyone’s financial situation is unique, but there are a number of common quandaries that flummox even the most diligent taxpayers.
Here are a few of the more common tax questions for 2023:
- Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My State Stimulus Check?
- Do Social Security Recipients Need to File a Tax Return?
- Can You Claim a Boyfriend or Girlfriend as a Dependent?
- Which Divorced Parent Gets to Claim the Child Tax Credit?
- If Student Debt Relief Goes Through, Will You Owe More in Taxes?
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 in filing your return. Be sure to check back as we update this list often with more tax explainers and tips for 2023.