Published April 11, 2014
The clock’s ticking: Americans have one weekend left to file their taxes before the April 15 deadline.
If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, you aren’t alone: Last year, 25 million people waited until the final days before filing their taxes, according to the IRS.
If you one of the millions of procrastinators, Mark Steber, Jackson-Hewitt Chief Tax Officer, says don’t panic, but act quickly.
He offers the following tips and mistakes to avoid when filling out your return at the last-minute:
Steber suggests taxpayers in a bind “embrace technology” in the final days ahead of filing deadline.
“No matter who you are, it’s time to get organized, get ready and get it done,” Steber says. There are plenty of credible resources online, including the IRS website, that offer tips and check-lists to make sure deductions aren’t overlooked.
He also recommends e-filing. “Whether you decide to do it for yourself, or pay someone, file electronically,” he says. “It’s safer, you get automatic validation from the IRS, and its faster than mail. You will get your money faster too, if you are getting a return.”
Know When to Request an Extension
If you are just approaching a tax profession now, don’t expect him or her be able to rush and completely your return on time, says Grafton Willey, managing director at CBIZ MHM, a business consulting firm.
“A professional won’t rush to finish the return,” Willey says. “They will want to get it right, so they will probably file an extension.”
Keep in mind that filing an extension, or Form 4868, is an extension to file—not pay, he cautions.
“If you normally pay, you should still pay on time,” he says. “Over-estimate your payment; they can always roll it into next year’s, or you can ask for a refund.”
Many people are cautious to ask for an extension, Willey says, thinking it will raise a red flag for an audit. Not only does he say that is not true, he says the opposite is often true.
Take Your Time
You might be racing against the clock, but making a mistake can be costly.
“People get in a real hurry to file and get things done in these last hours,” Steber says. “But take a bit of time to reflect on your year. Watch for life changes, both common and overlooked: whether you got married, had a baby, take care of a dependent or started a new business. Your tax savings reflect back on these.”