Archived Story

Last-minute tax advice

Published 10:25am Thursday, March 31, 2011

The deadline is drawing near for taxpayers to file for 2010 tax returns. The last day to file this year is April 18, instead of April 15.

Because Emancipation Day is observed April 15 in Washington, DC, most federal offices there will be closed. By law, the tax filing deadline for the nation is moved to the next business day, Monday, April 18.

With the deadline fast approaching, listed are a few tips and advice from IRS spokesman Dan Boone for those who have not yet filed.

Do not miss the filing deadline, especially if you owe taxes. File your tax return or an extension form by April 18 to avoid the late filing penalty. If you owe $1,000 and file late, the penalty could be as much as $250, according to Boone.

Remember an extension postpones filing, not paying. The filing extension (Form 4868) generally is accepted with or without payment as long as it is correctly completed and filed by April 18. No reason or excuse is required. An extension gives you until Oct. 17, 2011, to file your return but does not extend your time to pay taxes due. File for the extension online at no cost through IRS Free File at www.IRS.gov.

Pay what you can when you file. By paying as much as you can now, the amount of interest and late payment penalty owed will be less. You can request an IRS payment plan for the remainder owed. Visit IRS.gov to apply for an Online Payment Agreement.

Avoid common errors. Now that most returns are prepared on computers and e-filed to the IRS, the most common errors are data input mistakes. If you make sure your Social Security Number and other information are entered correctly, chances are the tax software will give you an error-free tax return.

File past-due returns to avoid losing refunds and don’t miss tax credits for workers. Taxpayers who worked any part of 2010 and whose household income was less than $48,362 may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

File free online. IRS.gov allows filers whose household income was $58,000 or less last year to use brand-name tax software at no cost.

If your income is above $58,000, use the Fillable Forms section of Free File – anyone of any income level can use it free. E-filing is fast, easy and secure. It provides a fast refund, a virtually error-free return and confirmation of receipt by the IRS. About three out of four tax returns are e-filed now.

Also, get your return prepared and e-filed free by calling the IRS Site Locater number, 1-800-906-9887, check your refund status online by visiting IRS.gov and use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool and avoid tax scams.

Even though the IRS encourages e-filing, e-payments and provides e-refunds, the IRS never sends e-mails about your taxes. E-mails that ask for your private information are usually phishing scams. Guard your personal information carefully.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Check out the IRS Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams at http://www.IRS.gov.

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