With the April 15th tax filing deadline creeping ever closer, taxpayers around the country fall into two categories: the haves and the have nots. This means they either have or have not filed their returns yet. Which category do you fall into? Have you filed your tax return yet?
At JK Harris, we assist our clients with back tax issues all year long. But, did you know we also have a tax preparation department? Although we continue to assist a steady stream of tax resolution, small business, and audit clients around the year, we still go through a ‘rush season’ every year at tax time. We usually get a flurry of last minute filers working to get their taxes finished in time for the tax-filing deadline, as many of the franchise tax preparation operations do. You can benefit from our tax preparers’ combined knowledge with this list of ten tax tips to get you through the last minute madness.
1. Relax. Don’t allow the thoughts of preparing your taxes to stress you out. If you feel you are unable to prepare them by yourself, take them to a professional for assistance.
2. Running short on time? You can always file an extension, Form 4868, as long as you file it by April 15th. It is very important to remember – an extension to file is not an extension to pay. You must still pay your taxes by the April 15th deadline.
3. E-file and/or Free File. Filing your taxes electronically is simple and if you choose to get your refund electronically deposited, you will have your money in as few as ten days. Free file allows you to electronically file if you meet the income recommendations. Check the IRS website.
4. Double-check everything, from the tax table to all of your figures. If you are e-filing, the program will take care of mathematical computations, saving you from any errors. If you file a paper return, you will need to check all of your computations carefully. Also, be sure to check all Social Security numbers for accuracy.
5. All tax forms and instructions are available on the IRS website, www.irs.gov. Whether the dog ate your forms, or you never got a tax book in the mail, everything you may need can be found on the IRS website.
6. Sign your tax form. This is one simple mistake that will delay the processing of your tax return. If you filed jointly, you and your spouse must both sign. If you paid someone to prepare your return, they also must sign the form.
7. How do you pay the IRS? The IRS offers options for making federal tax payments. The most important thing to know is to never send cash. You can file electronically and pay in a single step by authorizing a withdrawal from your checking account. You can also pay by phone or online with a credit or debit card. If you are filing a paper return, enclose a check, but do not staple it to the tax form.
8. Don’t forget your Schedules! Depending on the way you file and what credits, deductions, losses/gains, etc. you may be claiming – you need to fill out and attach the appropriate Schedule to your return.
9. Move since your last tax filing? Make sure you update your address with the IRS. Provide your correct address on your tax form or file Form 8822.
10. Looking to make a last minute IRA contribution? For 2009, the most that can be contributed to your traditional IRA is generally the smaller of the following amounts: $5,000 or $6,000 for taxpayers who are 50 or older or the amount of your taxable compensation for the year.