Last Minute Tax Filing Tips
As the April 15 income-tax filing deadline approaches, IRS Spokesman Mark Green offers tax tips for those still working on their tax returns. "Georgia taxpayers are E-filing in record numbers this year – thus far in Georgia we have received over 2.7 million of the 3.7 million expected E-File returns," said Green. As taxpayers begin to work on finalizing their tax returns, here are some valuable free helpful tax tips to avoid the stress and help beat the rush.
1. File Electronically for Free: Even If You Owe-There's no need to hold on to your return because you owe money. You can file electronically now and set your automatic payment for April 15th. You can e-file through a tax preparer, personal computer and tax preparation software or using the IRS Free File program. The IRS Free File program offers free tax return preparation and free e-filing to individuals with an AGI of $58,000 or less through a partnership with software companies. To Free File, go to the IRS Web site at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free , click on Free File and select a software company that meets your needs. Remember, you must access all Free File software companies through the IRS Web site. Electronic filing has many benefits. E-filing offers faster refunds, more accurate returns, paperless filing, and confirmation within 48 hours that IRS has accepted your tax return. "We see a dramatic reduction in the number of errors with tax returns that are filed electronically," said Green, and better yet, if you choose direct deposit, you can have your refund placed in your bank account in as little as 21 days!.
2. Don't Miss Out on Unclaimed Refunds: About 23,000 Georgians who haven't filed a tax return for 2010 are missing out on more than $28 million in unclaimed refunds. To collect these refunds a 2010 tax return must be filed with the IRS no later than April 15, 2014. Half of these unclaimed refunds would be for more than $539.
3. More Time to File: People who haven't finished filling out their return can get an automatic six-month extension. The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868.
Also, you can request an extension by mailing in Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to the Internal Revenue Service. Form 4868 is available on the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.
You may e-file an extension request using tax preparation software on your own computer or through a tax preparer. You will get an acknowledgment that the IRS has received your request. Members of the military and others serving in combat zone localities. Typically, taxpayers can wait until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file returns and pay any taxes due. For details, see Extensions of Deadlines in Publication 3, Armed Forces Tax Guide.
4. More Time to Pay: Taxpayers who have finished their returns should file by the regular April 15 deadline, even if they can't pay the full amount due. In many cases, those struggling with unpaid taxes qualify for one of several relief programs. Most people can set up a payment agreement with the IRS on line in a matter of minutes. Those who owe $50,000 or less in combined tax, penalties and interest can use the Online Payment Agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to six years. Taxpayers can choose this option even if they have not yet received a bill or notice from the IRS. Alternatively, taxpayers can request a payment agreement by filing Form 9465-FS. This form can be downloaded from IRS.gov and mailed along with a tax return, bill or notice.
5. Free Tax Return Preparation for You by Volunteers: The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Programs offer free tax help for taxpayers who qualify.
VITA -- The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $52,000 or less and need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. They can inform taxpayers about special tax credits for which they may qualify such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. VITA sites are generally located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other convenient locations.
TCE -- The TCE Program offers free tax help for all with priority assistance to people who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.
Find a VITA Site Near You
There are thousands of VITA sites located across the country. You may find a site near you between January and April using the VITA Locator Tool or call 1-800-906-9887.
6. Check the Identification Numbers - When filing a paper return carefully check the identification numbers — usually Social Security numbers — for each person listed. This includes you, your 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.
7. Double-Check Your Figures - If you are filing a paper return, you should double-check that you have correctly figured the refund or balance due.
8. Mailing Your Return - Use the coded envelope included with your tax package to mail your return. If you did not receive an envelope, check the section called "Where Do You File?" in the tax instruction booklet.
9. Mailing a Payment - People sending a payment should make the check out to "United States Treasury" and should enclose it with, but not attach it to the tax return or the Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher, if used. The check should include the taxpayer's Social Security number, daytime phone number, the tax year and the type of form filed.
10. Sign your form - Taxpayers must sign and date their returns. Both spouses must sign a joint return, even if only one had income.
11. Where to Get Tax Help or Forms: The IRS has several options available for tax help and forms. Go to the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov to get tax forms and publications as well as tax information. Some local libraries and post offices have forms and are open evenings and weekends. Recorded tax information on a variety of tax topics is available by calling 1-800-829-4477. Toll-free telephone assistance is available by calling the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. Free tax help is as near as a community center, school, local library or senior center for thousands of Taxpayers this year. Volunteers are on-site at more than 400 locations statewide and are ready to offer free tax return preparation and, at many sites, free electronic filing. Call 1-800-906-9887 for volunteer tax site locations. Help is also available at some IRS offices. Check out the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov for IRS office locations and hours.
SOURCE: INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE
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