There’s a lot of talk in the office about the looming deadline for tax filing. Some took care of this responsibility early, while others waited until the last minute. With less than a week to go, there’s little time and lots of anxiety for those who waited.
If you’re like those of us who waited to file our taxes, first, know you are in good company, and then read these tips to help you manage the process.
- KNOW the deadline – Wednesday, April 15, 2015 (0 minutes)
The IRS doesn’t have to have your completed taxes in-hand by that date, but you must have them postmarked or filed electronically filed by then. Go ahead… highlight that deadline on the calendar, put an alert in your phone, set all your reminders right now.
- SCHEDULE time to complete your return (2 minutes)
While you’re at the calendar, pick a date to complete your taxes. If someone prepares them for you, take a minute right now to phone and schedule with your preparer. There’s a huge influx of people who wait until the last minute to schedule their appointment. This means you’ll be competing for the preparer’s time, likely leaving times that won’t conveniently fit your schedule.
If you prepare your own taxes, block off time in your schedule to complete them. Do that…right now! Circle the date you’ll work on your taxes and commit to it. When your tax prep day arrives, the first thing to do is turn off your phone so you remain uninterrupted until your taxes are done.
Don’t want to do your own taxes? Here are some IRS tips for choosing a tax preparer: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Top-Ten-Tips-to-Help-You-Choose-a-Tax-Preparer.
Need help? The IRS offers free tax preparation help to qualified taxpayers. Check here to see if you’re among those who qualify http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.
- ORGANIZE (15 minutes)
Collect all your necessary paperwork. Refer to this checklist to make sure you aren’t overlooking anything (http://www.hrblock.com/tax-offices/tax-prep/tax-prep-checklist.html. It helps to keep a folder designated for tax-related documents you collect throughout the year. Drop them in as you receive them to avoid finding and gathering everything at tax time.
- CONSIDER filing an extension (5 minutes)
If you don’t have all the information you need to prepare your tax return and know you’ll miss the filing deadline, then you may want to consider filing for an extension. Avoid penalties and interest by filling out form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return”. This simple step may get you a 6-month extension from the Internal Revenue Service to file your return. You can obtain the form athttp://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf
However, if you owe the IRS taxes, you will not be granted an extension.
- REMEMBER your charitable donations (1 minute)
Don’t forget the charitable donations you’ve made throughout the year – including your car donation – a common oversight by many taxpayers. Refer to IRS Publication 526 (charitable contribution deductions) and IRS Publication 4303 (vehicle donation guidelines).
- FILE electronically (30 minutes)
Completing your tax return electronically (e-filing) is the quickest way to submit and saves you from waiting in long lines at the post office to get the April 15th postmark. There are plenty of places to choose from to electronically file your return. The IRS offers free e-file, so be sure to check their site first at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free.
- KEEP IN MIND FOR NEXT YEAR…(0 minutes)
The earlier you file the earlier you’re likely to receive a refund owed to you. Choosing direct deposit rather than having your refund mailed to you also speeds up the refund process. After you have filed your return, you can check the status of your refund using the IRS where’s my refund tool. Finally, there is free tax preparation help for qualified taxpayers. To see if you qualify, visit http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.
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