Last-Minute Tax Tips

Tax PrepFour days and counting . . . Tax Day is almost here. Have you filed?

Don’t freak out if you haven’t—many people will be spending this weekend pouring over their tax forms and receipts. Here are some last-minute tax tips that might save you a few bucks, as well as costly mistakes to avoid.

  • Double check everything. After that, triple check it. Errors can cost you money. For example, the IRS says many taxpayers make mistakes when calculating their Child and Dependent Care Credit. They also say to make sure a dependent’s name appears exactly as it does on their Social Security card.
  • Make sure to sign your tax return. If you are filing a joint tax return, make sure both you and your spouse sign and date the form.
  • A split refund allows you to have your funds sent to three different accounts. Put what you need for immediate use in your checking account, but send the rest to savings. Include Form 8888 with your federal taxes to take advantage of this option.
  • Extensions must be filed by April 17th, but the IRS is giving you extra time to file, not to pay. You must pay what you think you owe along with Form 4868 in order to avoid the late-payment penalty.
  • The Fresh Start Penalty Relief initiative gives some taxpayers a six-month extension to fully pay their taxes. You may qualify if you were unemployed or self-employed and experienced a decline in business during 2011. There are no penalties, but you’ll still have to pay interest.
  • If you filed your taxes already, but forgot to report income or claim a credit, you can correct your mistake by filing Form 1040X.

Final Word: If you can’t pay your taxes by the 17th, file your return and pay what you can to avoid as much interest and penalties as possible. The IRS also recommends calling them at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss payment options.

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