In the remaining few days before the 2009 income tax deadline, millions of taxpayers will be rushing to finish their tax returns. If you've left your own taxes until the last minute "“ here are some tips to help you with last minute filing:
The closer the deadline is, the more people tend to rush to get their taxes in on time. Rushing through your tax return can result in costly mistakes "“ whether the mistakes generate penalties and fees or lost refund money. Try to clear a couple hours a day until they are completed; or seek help from a tax professional who has the time to work through your return and submit it before the April 15th deadline.
Provide Complete Documentation
If sending your tax return through the mail, make sure you've attached all required documentation, from W-2's to 1099's to medical receipts and any other documents you may have to support your return. If filing electronically, make sure you have your documentation safely stored in case you're asked to present it to the IRS for proof.
Before mailing in your return, make a copy of all of your paperwork. If you get audited, you'll want to have a copy of the return you sent in as well as all the supporting documentation. If e-filing, print out a copy of your return and save it with your documentation.
Mail Certified Mail
When you're filing close to the deadline, it's a good idea to mail your return using Certified Mail. Certified Mail allows you to receive a receipt stamped with the date of mailing, a unique tracking number that lets you verify delivery online, and the recipient must sign for the mail to receive it. You also have the option for requesting a copy of the signature with Return Receipt through the US Post Office (for an additional fee). If the IRS claims not to have received your tax return, you'll have records that prove you mailed it in time. You may need to re-mail a return if the IRS misplaces it, but you can't be charged late fees or penalties if you can prove it was mailed before the deadline.
Be Careful of Deductions and Credits
Honesty is the best policy when completing your tax returns. Trying to get deductions you don't qualify for can cost you much more in penalties and repercussions than you get from the deduction if you're caught. Double check all of your deductions to ensure you're only claiming deductions and tax credits you qualify for.
Check the IRS Website for Missed Deductions
While you never want to lie to look like you qualify for more deductions or credits than you really do "“ you also don't want to miss any deductions or credits that you really do qualify for. Check the IRS website to view new deductions and credits available. Even if you hire a tax professional to prepare your return for you, it doesn't hurt to double check the deductions and credits to make sure they gave you everything you qualify for.
Need More Time?
If you aren't able to file your return before April 15th, file for an automatic extension with Form 4868. If you owe taxes, you are still responsible for getting payment to the IRS by April 15th but you will have more time to complete the return.
Can't Pay In Full?
Even if you cannot pay in full, still file a tax return. The failure to pay penalty is .5% percent per month whereas the failure to file penalty is 5% per month. You can always setup a payment plan to pay the IRS over time.
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