Last-Minute 2011 Tax Tips for Procrastinators
Luckily tax filers, payers and procrastinators receive an extra two days to file taxes beyond the usual April 15 tax filing deadline because April 15 falls on a Sunday in 2012 and April 16 is a District of Columbia-based holiday called Emancipation Day. Nevertheless, the clock is ticking and April 17 will be here before you know it. Here are 14 quick tax tips provided by the IRS:
1.Visit the IRS Website. More than 322 million visits were made to IRS.gov in 2011. Download, file, read, get answers, contact information and check the latest news … plus much more.
2.Consider the ease and convenience of E-file and check into IRS Free File. About 80 percent of all returns are now e-filed. For those who make $57,000 or less, free tax software is offered through a private-public partnership with various software manufacturers called IRS Free File. Also, with the Fillable Forms feature, taxpayers can file a federal return for free no matter their income level.
3.Choose Direct Deposit. Prepare a paperless tax return with direct deposit chosen for refunds.
4. Avoid common errors such as transposed Social Security numbers, math errors or not signing the return.
5.Request an automatic six month extension for time to file. It’s easy to do through tax software, a paper form 4868 or electronically through payment services.
6.Choose a tax preparer wisely. No matter who prepares a tax return, the taxpayer is responsible for the information submitted once it’s signed.
7.Get a fresh start. For those who cannot pay in-full, the IRS offers quick and easy solutions such as online installment agreements to make the process less stressful. The IRS encourages struggling taxpayers to file their return, pay some of what’s owed and then contact the agency about their situation.
8.Check into Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. Free tax preparation is available at hundreds of Southern California and Nevada VITA sites through April 17. Key qualifying requirements include income of $50,000 or less and a simple return. Taxpayers can call 211 or check IRS.gov, keyword search VITA, to find one.
9.Avoid scams and schemes that seem too good to be true. For example, the IRS is not going to initiate contact with taxpayers with an email alerting them to a refund. Also, be wary of unscrupulous promoters who may tempt senior citizens and other taxpayers into filing tax returns in order to fraudulently claim refunds.
10.Don’t miss out! Taxpayers should generally claim all deductions and/or credits that they are eligible for to lower their tax bill.
11.Itemize or Standard Deduction? Taxpayers should take the one that allows them to pay the least in taxes.
12.Social Security Income. Generally, if Social Security benefits were a taxpayer’s only income in 2011, those benefits are not taxable and a tax return probably does not need to be filed.
Complete details on anything related to federal tax can be found on the IRS website at www.irs.gov.