Recommendations for Last Minute Tax Filers

April 11, 2009 6:59:53 AM PDT
If you haven't filed your tax return, take solace in knowing you are not alone. According to the IRS, it expects to receive a record 39-million returns in the final two weeks with more than 27 million of them filed in the week leading up to April 15. All told, that represents 21 percent of all tax returns that will be filed in 2008.The key to getting the job done is to have a plan. Joan Jensen, president and CEO of The Central Credit Union of Illinois offers the following advice for doing it right and filing on time.

Recent tax changes may equal bigger refunds from Uncle Sam: Check to see if you qualify for any of the newest life-change deductions and credits related to:

  • Foreclosure or first time home purchase.
  • Job loss and job search, income reduction, employment relocation.
  • Reservist called to active duty.
  • Divorce, marriage, birth of child, death of family member.
  • Child attending college.

Where to go for the latest information and help:

  • A qualified professional is a good place for filers with complicated returns or for those not comfortable preparing their own return.
  • IRS.gov or any IRS office or the IRS phone center at 800-829-1040.
  • Today's latest tax-preparation software includes the most recent tax law changes (like the updated First-time Homebuyer Credit), they do the math and even alert you to missing information. And many will transfer your federal information to your state return.
  • VITA volunteers for low to moderate income filers.

E-File Returns: Faster filing, quicker refunds and fewer errors.

  • Free file at IRS.gov
  • Utilize only IRS-approved tax preparation software.
  • Confirm that your tax professional files electronically.

Avoid Needless Fees and Penalties:

  • Reject refund anticipation loans and their notoriously high interest rates.
  • Don't pay taxes with a credit card. You will be charged extra fees.
  • Don't be late. Missing the deadline means a late-filing penalty - usually 4.5 percent of the tax you owe for each month, or part of a month, that your return is late.
  • Avoid extensions by filing on time and paying as much as you can. The IRS will bill you for the balance and only charge interest and penalties on the unpaid balance or apply for an Installment Agreement available at IRS.gov or call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
  • The law provides for up to three years to file amended returns for correcting ones already filed or collecting any unclaimed refunds.

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