With this year's tax deadline on Tuesday, April 18, time is running out if you haven't filed your tax return yet. But there's no reason to stress if you've waited until the last minute, and no need to get an appointment with a local tax specialist. You can save yourself time, sanity and often some money, while still meeting the tax deadline. Just file online or from your mobile device with TurboTax.
Here are eight quick and easy tips to help last-minute filers meet the deadline and get the biggest refund they deserve.
Gather Your Documents in One Place
You'll want to have all the necessary documents in front of you when you sit down to file, including any forms that report income (like W-2s and 1099s), receipts for expenses, mortgage interest and your kids' correct social security numbers.
You must report all your sources of income to the IRS on your tax return, even if you didn't receive a 1099 form for work or income in 2016.
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Go Online and E-File With Direct Deposit
Filing your taxes is more convenient than ever with online and mobile options available — no waiting in line necessary, plus there are several other benefits.
You don't need to know anything about tax laws or forms to get your taxes done right. TurboTax asks simple questions about your life like, "Did you get married?" or "Did you have a baby?" and then personalizes the filing experience so you get every deduction and credit you deserve. You'll even receive a confirmation when the IRS receives your tax return.
If you are expecting a tax refund, e-filing with direct deposit is an easy, secure and fast way to get your federal tax refund. Nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued within 21 days or fewer after IRS acceptance if you e-file with direct deposit, compared to six to eight weeks for paper-filed tax returns.
Give Yourself a Deadline
You must file your taxes by midnight on April 18, but you can do yourself a huge favor by setting an earlier deadline so you don't have to hurry through the paperwork and stress over missing a tax deduction or credit. Also, the sooner you file, the sooner you can get your tax refund.
Don’t Forget Tax Deductions and Estimated Tax Payments
If you're working in the on-demand economy or as a freelancer, you're allowed to deduct business expenses that you might not be eligible for as a W-2 employee, such as the self-employment tax, start-up costs, computers, vehicle expenses and more.
You also can contribute to your SEP IRA account up until the April 18 tax deadline, which could lower your taxable income and tax liability on your 2016 taxes. Keep a record of your estimated tax payments, which will be due on a quarterly basis. You can skip your 4th quarter payment for 2017 if you file your return and pay all the tax due by January 31, 2018.
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Double-Check Important Information
According to the IRS, one of the top mistakes taxpayers make when rushing to meet the tax deadline is gathering incorrect Social Security numbers from their children and spouses. Correct Social Security numbers are required to get valuable tax deductions, credits and exemptions. Be sure to check who you can count for the year, because nonrelatives can be dependents too. If you provided over half of the support for your boyfriend, girlfriend or friend crashing on your couch, you may be able to claim them as a dependent and deduct up to $4,050.
File Even If You Owe
Owing money is the worst reason to file an extension, since an extension to file your taxes is not an extension to pay. You are still required to pay what you owe by April 18. If you can't afford your debt to Uncle Sam all at once, you can ask the IRS for an installment agreement when you file your taxes. This will allow you to pay your tax debt over the course of six years.
Make a Smart Money Move
The tax deadline is also the deadline to contribute to your IRA and make a positive impact on your 2016 taxes. You still have time to contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you're 50 or older) to your IRA and take a deduction on your taxes. Make sure you let your plan administrator know you want the money to apply to your 2016 IRA contribution. Contributing to your IRA might also make you eligible for the Saver's Credit, worth up to $1,000 or $2,000 for married couples filing jointly. This is the only place the IRS allows you to double dip.
If You Need Help, You’re Not Alone
Have a question while doing your taxes with TurboTax? You can connect live via video to a CPA or enrolled agent to get your toughest tax questions answered with TurboTax SmartLook™. Screen sharing capability allows a TurboTax tax expert to guide you by circling information and highlighting next steps right on the screen, so you can file with confidence.
Following these tips will help you avoid the common tax mistakes made in the last-minute rush to file before the April 18th deadline. In 2016, about 75 percent of taxpayers received a refund, with the average refund close to $2,800, according to the IRS. So what are you waiting for? File now!