With just a few days to go until the April 15 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 six last-minute tax tips for procrastinators.
Editor’s note: The due date for individuals to file 2020 taxes has been extended to May 17, 2021.
1. 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 15.
2. 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.
If you’ve never taken advantage of the many free tax-filing options out there, you could be missing out. There are several free – or low cost – options available that will not only save you a few bucks, but will help simplify the process as well. Note: Some free services aren’t available to homeowners or other taxpayers with itemized deductions.
If you prefer to handle your taxes the old-fashioned way, you may also be eligible for free in-person help with tax preparation. 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.
3. Open or contribute to an IRA
You can make previous-year contributions to a regular or Roth IRA, Coverdell plan or SEP through April 15. If you still need to open an account, be warned that some companies’ processes are not instantaneous.
4. Pay by credit card
Only do this if you have to. You want to pay what you owe by April 15. 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. If you face a large tax bill, you can ask the IRS for a payment plan or an installment agreement.
5. Check on your refund
If you’ve already filed your taxes and are wondering when you’ll receive your refund, you can track it at IRS Where’s My Refund?
6. 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. Their expertise can save you money and stress.
For more tax information:
- Free and low cost ways to file online
- Save money on tax prep by doing it yourself
- Resolutions to make before Tax Day
- 8 tax deductions parents shouldn’t miss
- Where to find free help with your taxes
- 7 tax return tips from a tax pro
- Tax deductions for kids’ college expenses