Good Morning Dinks. It’s down to the wire for those who haven’t done their taxes yet. The usual deadline to file them is April 15th. This year, the IRS is giving you until April 18th to file. For my last minute crowd, those extra three days should come in handy. Luckily, I filed my taxes in February, so it’s one less thing that I have to worry about. Today, I will share some last minute tips that should help you when you file this week.
If you’re not already organized, you need to take some time today or tomorrow and do it. You need to gather forms that you need such as your W-2, 1098 – E and Form 1098 if you have a mortgage. If you’re married, you also need to decide if you are going to file jointly or married filing separately. Just remember if you choose to file a separate return from your spouse, you will be disqualified from receiving several tax deductions.
Review last year’s tax return
Going over last year’s return may help to jog your memory. Unless you had a major change in your life, your old tax return might help to remind you of similar deductions that you can claim for this year. I’ve been doing my own for the last two years. Reviewing my previous year’s return has helped me remember to include a few things.
Free Tax Help
If you make under $54,000, the IRS has free tax return help centers set up all over the country to help people file if they need it. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return prep. The program which is called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) has sites located at community centers, schools, libraries, and other convenient locations.
Use legit tax programs or preparers
When filing your taxes, you should use a legitimate tax program or preparer. During the last two years, I’ve used Turbo Tax. At the time, I didn’t know much about taxes, but I didn’t have a problem. Turbo Tax was very easy to use, and each page had instructions that anyone can follow. When it comes to tax preparers, you want to make sure you choose a legit company. Companies like H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt have the reputation for getting customers taken care of. Your friend who just started doing taxes on the side in January may not. It’s best always to research before you choose a preparer.
Watch out for scams
There are some bad people in this world. Criminals try to file fraudulent returns using other people’s social security numbers. That’s not cool. You have to be very careful with your sensitive information. You also need to watch out for fake emails or sites that are looking to steal your information.
Don’t forget to include extra money
Did you win big money on the slots in Las Vegas? Did you appear on a game show like The Price is Right and win? If something similar happened to you, please don’t forget to include that info on your taxes. The IRS knows about it, and they will want their cut.
File an extension
If you don’t think you’ll be able to do everything by the 18th, file an extension. Doing so gives you a few more months to get everything together.
In the case that you owe money to the IRS, have a plan on how you’re going to pay them. A popular option is to set up an installment agreement. You set that up by filling out Form 9465. That can be done if you owe less than $50,000. Other ways that you can pay your taxes is to use a credit card or to tap into your 401k. I wouldn’t do those last two options.