You’re not alone if you have waited up to the last minute to prepare what will be a last minute tax return. Approximately 20% to 25% of tax returns are filed with in the last two weeks of the tax deadline. While some delay the process because they want to side step the hassle, the issue will not go away. In fact, missing a crucial deadline could result in huge penalties. So with only a couple of days left until your 2016 tax return is due, we have 5 last minute tax return tips for those filing at the last minute.
1. File Electronically
Those who have a relatively simple tax return (often known as the “short form”) can take advantage of filing online. Tax payers who earned less than $64,000 in adjusted gross income for last year can use the IRS’s own no cost e-filing system. It contains three features:
- Free File and Fillable Forms – Those who made less than $64,000 can take advantage of the IRS’s own software. We’ve seen better though. It also gives you the option to file your state tax return (if applicable).
- E-File with Commercial Tax Preparation Software – The IRS also allows you to use commercial tax software. This software uses a question and answer format that makes preparing a return simple. Those who go this route must file electronically and have a PIN or know their previous year’s adjusted gross income.
- Authorized E-File Tax Provider – Those who qualify may also use an authorized IRS e-file provider. Simply enter your zip code to find one near you. However at this time of the year, they may be swamped.
See the IRS tools for yourself by clicking here.
2. Be Aware of the Tax Filing Deadline
For this year of 2017, you have until Tuesday, April 18 to file your 2016 taxes. The switch from April 15 to three days later is due to the Washington holiday. Those in Massachusetts and other states have the option to file later. Here in Texas, it is April 18.
3. Collect All of Your Documents
Those who are required to send you a tax form are usually required to do so by January 31 of the year. However, some may have chosen not to, the forms got lost in the mail, or you misplaced them. Worse yet, they may have filed these documents with the IRS and not shared the info with you. It is essential to have all your documents in order to properly prepare your tax return. They include the W-2 which shows how much you earned and how much was withheld in taxes. A 1099 form will show how much freelance or self-employed income you earned. Homeowners should have received a 1098 showing how much was paid in deductible mortgage interest.
4. Go Slow When Preparing Your Tax Return
Don’t let the stress of taxes and their deadline allow you to make a critical mistake on your return. Those who file a last minute tax return are more likely to make mistakes. The most common error is leaving certain items out or entering information incorrectly. Filers can also put the wrong item on the wrong line, which won’t be taken lightly by the IRS. The worst case scenario is tax filers just giving up and heading out to look for just about anyone who can file their return. This rushed effort can lead to shady characters and mistakes. Which leads us to:
5. Get a Tax Preparation Pro
If none of the above applies to your situation, it’s time to go pro. The mistakes they can help you avoid are worth the cost alone. It’s also a good idea for those who have complex tax returns. Not sure which way to go? Look them up, see if they have a brick and mortar operation. Those who don’t may do so because they don’t want to be found after filing.
Last Minute Tax Return Deductions in Houston
If you are under the deadline and need help preparing your tax return in Houston, feel free contact us for assistance.