With just a few days to go until the April 18 tax-filing deadline, people who have not yet done their taxes may think they are doomed. But you still have time to save money on your taxes if you’re smart.
Here are seven last-minute tax tips for procrastinators.
Get an extension. If you truly can’t have your taxes done properly on time, don’t do them. You can get a six-month extension just by filing form 4868, giving you until Oct. 15 to file. If you owe money, however, you need to send the payment in by April 18.
File your taxes for free. Don’t rush out to buy tax software until you make sure you can’t use free online programs. The IRS Free File program works with commercial tax software companies to create free online filing tools for taxpayers with low and moderate incomes. If you earn more than $64,000 a year or otherwise don’t qualify for the free filing programs, you can still file your federal income tax return online using free forms.
Get free tax help. The IRS funds free tax preparation help in conjunction with AARP, local community groups and its own Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to taxpayers who meet income or age guidelines.
Open or contribute to an IRA. You can make 2016 contributions to a regular or Roth IRA, Coverdell plan or SEP through April 18. If you still need to open an account, be warned that some companies’ processes are not instantaneous.
Pay by credit card (but only if you have to). You want to pay what you owe by April 18. If you can’t scrape up the cash, the IRS does take credit cards, but you’ll have to pay a fee to use them. Fees range from $2.79 to $3.95 for a debit card, and 1.87% to 2.35% for a credit card. If you face a large tax bill, you can ask the IRS for a payment plan or an installment agreement.
Check on your refund. If you’re already filed your taxes and wonder where it is, you can track it at IRS Where’s My Refund?
Get professional help if you need it. If you owe a large tax bill you can’t pay, did a short sale or lost a home to foreclosure, incurred lots of medical bills, lost money in a business venture or otherwise have a complicated tax life, file for an extension and then find a good tax professional to handle your return.