Tax tips for last-minute filers
DALLAS - With the tax filing deadline close at hand, the IRS offers some tips for those still working on their tax returns:
Choosing to e-file instead of preparing a paper tax form is the best step you can take to ensure that your return is accurate and complete. "The e-file program's question and answer format combined with the accuracy of its math calculations help to reduce common mistakes," said Clay Sanford an IRS spokesman in Dallas.
If you file a paper return, the numbers to check most carefully on the tax return are the identification numbers — usually Social Security numbers — for each person listed. This includes the taxpayer, spouse, dependents and persons listed in relation to claims for the Child and Dependent Care Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. Missing, incorrect or illegible Social Security numbers can delay or reduce a tax refund.
Taxpayers filing paper returns should also double-check that they have correctly figured the refund or balance due and have used the right figure from the tax table. It's important to sign and date a tax return, too. Both spouses must sign a joint return, even if only one had income. Anyone paid to prepare a return must also sign it.
Be sure to either file a return or request an extension of time to file by the April 15 due date. The extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay.
You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date. See IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return for a variety of easy ways to apply for an extension. Form 4868 is available at IRS.gov.
Go to IRS.gov and visit '1040 Central' to learn about your options for paying taxes when you don't have the money. "For those who cannot resolve their tax debt immediately, an installment agreement can be a reasonable payment option," Sanford added.