There are few things in life more tedious that filing your taxes, so it’s no surprise that millions of consumers put it off until the last minute every year. But with the tax deadline quickly approaching on April 18, there isn’t much time left to procrastinate.
Follow these last-minute filing tips to help you save time, money and stress this tax season.
Read more: 12 tax breaks for middle-class families
5 last-minute tax tips to get the job done right
Before you sit down to file, do some prep and gather necessary information. This includes any income and deduction documents, Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse (if filing jointly) and your children, and the health care coverage form. Don’t forget to review your tax return from last year to make sure you have everything needed to support the same claims you plan to make this year.
Go the e-file route
Filing your taxes online is easier, faster and more secure than processing returns by mail. Plus, it can help prevent you from making costly math mistakes. In fact, the IRS found that 20% of income tax returns prepared on paper contained errors that caused people to overpay taxes, while only 1% of returns prepared electronically contained mistakes. Online tax software is very user-friendly, offering step-by-step assistance that even the most novice tax filers find easy to follow. And, don’t forget: The IRS offers free filing options for people making less than $64,000.
Review credits and deductions
You are more likely to overlook credits and deductions when rushing to file and this could cause you to overpay your tax bill by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Some commonly overlooked deductions to note include:
- charitable donations
- student loan interest
- childcare expenses
- costs of trying to find a new job
- moving expenses
Spend time reviewing this list of eligible credits and deductions provided by the IRS so you don’t miss out on any money-saving opportunities!
You may qualify for several other tax credits and deductions if you did any of the following in 2016 or fall into any of these categories:
- Made any home improvements
- Paid for a child’s college tuition
- Searched for a new job
- Own your own business
- Own a home
- Your income was below a certain threshold
- You are retired
Don’t rush, file an extension
If you have a complicated tax return or find yourself in a new financial situation, don’t rush to file by the tax deadline and increase the chances of making an error.
Instead, file an extension to give yourself time to do it right. Keep in mind, an extension to file is not an extension to pay. Outstanding tax debt is still due by the deadline, so pay as much as you think you owe to avoid failure-to-pay fees.
Request payment options
If you can’t pay outstanding tax debt related to unemployment, bankruptcy or other economic hardships, ignoring your tax bill now will end up costing you more down the road. The IRS can work with you to set up a payment plan if you don’t have the funds to cover the entire bill. For instance, you may be eligible to qualify for monthly payments through an online payment agreement or pay in installments. Learn more about your options here.
How to file your taxes for free