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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Tax tips for last-minute income tax filers

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Though Tax Day falls three days later this year — April 18, rather than the usual April 15 deadline — the IRS is urging taxpayers to get out and file now.

For those taxpayers pushing the deadline, here are a few tips to help organize tax-related information and speed up the preparation process: 


Prepare your records

Find and organize any tax-related records such as receipts, unreimbursed medical/dental expenses, business records or casualty losses. Consider any life changes that may have taken place in 2016 and any records that may pertain to these changes. Also include Form 1098-Mortgage Interest Statements, Form 1098-T: Tuition Statement, 1098-E: Student Loan Interest Statement, Form 1095-A: Health Insurance Marketplace Statement or other tax-related documents received.


Organize dependent information

Be sure that you have birthdates and accurate Social Security numbers for all dependents. Gather any information such as child care expenses, education expenses, out-of-pocket medical expenses that were paid, as well as any health insurance statements received.


Gather all income documents and information

Taxpayers are required to report all income when filing taxes, so be sure to do so. Income is not just limited to wages paid by an employer but also includes unemployment compensation, income received from pensions and annuities and income derived from business, gambling or investment activities. If you are unable to obtain a copy of your W-2 Wage and Tax Statement or 1099-MISC, you can request a transcript by visiting IRS.gov and selecting “Get Tax Transcript.”


Visit IRS.gov and utilize IRS online tools

The IRS has many tools to assist taxpayers with a variety of tax situations. Go online for tax information and resources. The Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Trails and IRS Tax Map are useful question-and-answer resources. IRS Publication 17 – Your Federal Income Tax, is also a great resource for tough tax questions and a thorough guide to understanding your individual federal income taxes.


Have your prior year tax return available

Having your prior year tax return on hand will not only help reduce errors, but will also help assess your tax situation. Information regarding state taxes paid, gain or loss carryover and charitable gift carryover will be found in the prior year return. This year many software products require that the taxpayer’s prior year Adjusted Gross Income is provided to verify their identity and electronically sign their tax returns. The prior year AGI can be found on their prior year tax return. If for some reason you are unable to access your prior year return, visit IRS.gov for information on obtaining a tax transcript or prior year AGI.


Choose your filing option

Will you file online, go to a VITA site or have them prepared by a professional? There are many options to choose from, but choose wisely. If you’re planning on using a tax professional, ask for references or credentials and research tax preparers before you hand over any personal information. The IRS Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers is available to assist you in your search for a qualified tax professional.


Avoid errors

Be aware of common errors. Pay attention and review your tax return to avoid filing an erroneous return. The most common errors include inaccurate Social Security numbers, misspelled names, filing status errors, incorrect bank account information or tax forms not being signed. Review your return carefully, as mistakes will cause a delay in the refund process.


Don’t wait any longer — file as soon as possible

If you’re not able to file before the April 18 deadline and need more time, you can apply for an extension to file. An extension gives you an additional six months to file but does not extend time to pay taxes due.  To request an extension, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, through a tax preparer, online tax software or by mail.



Brittany Sabalza is director of continuing education at Pro Tax Solutions in Indianapolis.

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