Last-Minute Tax Tips

If you’ve waited until the 11th hour to file your 2018 taxes, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. In fact, according to gobankingrates.com, more than 45 million people waited until April to file their 2017 taxes. So, whether you delay filing because you’re afraid you’ll owe money to the government, or you’re simply dreading the process, know that you’re in good company.
 
Now that you’ve come down to the wire, however, there are deadlines you need to be aware of and tips that can make things easier. The best advice of all when it comes to taxes will come from your personal accountant or tax accountant, but these tips will serve as a good guideline to get you started:
  • The deadline. While we’re all familiar with the April 15 deadline to file personal income tax returns, should you reside in Maine or Massachusetts, you have until April 17 to file, since April 15 is Patriots’ Day and April 16 is Emancipation Day.
  • Have your documents. Several documents have most likely been coming in, so make sure you’ve gathered them all before you begin. These will include your W-2 from your employer; 1099 forms from other sources of work, such as contract or freelance work, interest and dividends statements; a 1098 showing mortgage interest paid off; 1095 forms showing health insurance coverage; and receipts for charitable contributions.
  • Understand your health coverage. You will only need health insurance form 1095-A to file your tax return. That’s the form you’ll receive if you get health insurance through the health insurance marketplace. If you purchase insurance directly from an insurer, or are covered by your employer, you will receive a different form, which is not needed to file.
  • Try to file electronically. If you make less than $66,000, you can file taxes online for free with IRS Free File. Otherwise, look into tax preparation software you can purchase.
  • Import data into programs. This will save you time and reduce errors.
  • Make an IRA contribution. You can do this right up until the tax filing deadline, and deduct the amount of the contribution from your income. You can deduct your contribution if you meet certain requirements, like not having a retirement plan at work. Talk to your accountant about this to make sure you understand what you can and can’t deduct.
  • Know what to do if you can’t meet the deadline. If you can’t file in time, be sure to file for an extension. This can usually be done with an automatic tax extension Form 4868 from the IRS. The tax extension deadline is Oct. 15, 2019.
  • File even if you can’t pay. If you know you owe money, not filing will only make matters worse in the form of additional penalties. You will most likely be able to arrange an installment plan with the IRS. Counsel from your accountant or tax professional is highly recommended. 
Once you’ve made it through this tax filing season, vow to get things done earlier next year. Create files for your paperwork and start saving receipts so that you’ll be on your way to getting things done early next year.

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