If you missed the April 15th deadline and filed for an extension, the October 15th cut-off date is rapidly approaching. Here is what you need to know in order to prepare for the deadline:
1. Paperwork: Regardless how you will be filing (DIY or with a tax pro) gather all the necessary paperwork now. That includes income documentation (W2s, 1099s, K-1s, if applicable). Confirm the information on these forms matches your name, address, social security number. Any discrepancies will result in delayed return processing and a delayed refund.
2. Social Security Numbers: Make sure the social security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents are correct. If you are using a spreadsheet or app to organize your tax information, make sure the social security numbers are correctly recorded on the spreadsheet or in the app; incorrect or missing social security numbers will wreck havoc with your return and cause delays.
3. Deductions: Did you start a business, look for work, have a child, buy a home, volunteer or contribute to a charity? All of these activities are possible write-offs if you choose to itemize your tax deductions this year. There are additional deductions for child/dependent care, IRA contributions, medical expenses, and summer day camp for your kids. Tax deductions can lower your taxable income, which in turn will lower your overall tax liability.
Gather all of your expense receipts, and keep them handy for filing day. You’ll need to refer to them as you fill out your tax forms.
4. File Online: There are IRS-approved software packages for every budget, so avoid the long lines at the tax prep office and file online. Gather all of your tax records, set aside an hour or less, and file online. You’ll receive step-by-step instructions for each page, and support is readily available through the software package. If you select the direct deposit option for your refund, you can expect to receive the funds in about three weeks.
5. Request a Payment Plan: While you can’t request an extension to pay your taxes, you can request a payment plan. You’ll have up to six years to pay your tax balance if you qualify, and you’ll have payments you can live with.
With these tips in mind, the impending deadline need not feel like impending doom; instead it will be just another date on your calendar. Gather your paperwork, calculate your deductions, set aside some time, and go forth and file!