Last Minute Tax Tips to Help You File Wisely and Avoid Mistakes
The first few months of the year often seem to pass by at record speed, leaving us to wonder, wasn’t it just New Year’s Eve last week? Many find themselves surprised that spring is already upon us. That also means, unfortunately, that Tax Day is too.
Despite our best intentions to file early each year, many Americans tend to procrastinate when filing their taxes, often waiting until the last week, day, or even hour. Last year as the month of April began, the IRS was waiting for over 59 million taxpayers to complete and file their tax returns. Filing at the last minute can be panic-inducing. Thankfully, there are several tax tips to help you avoid mistakes and set yourself up for organized and stress-free success.
Ensure you have all necessary documents
At the start of the year, you’ll begin receiving several documents in the mail that you’ll need when filing taxes. These include a W-2 from your company and a 1095 for proof of health insurance coverage. You’ll receive several others depending on your financial status and other sources of income. Some typically required include a 1099 if you’ve done any freelance work, a 1098 for homeowners, and a 1098-E if you have student loans. The best way to store and organize these is digitally using scanners like the Fujitsu ScanSnap. It includes features like OCR (optical character recognition) that allow you to add keywords and create searchable files. Gather and review these documents to make sure you aren’t missing anything as you sit down to file.
Go paperless and backup your files
Don’t stop at your tax forms; digitize everything from receipts, last year’s return, charitable donations, or other deduction-related documents. Scan and upload as you go throughout the year. That way, you won’t need to scramble to gather everything at the last minute. The most important step in digitizing all of your files is to use a cloud-based software to back them up. Some scanners and apps, including the ScanSnap iX Series, even have direct-to-cloud compatibility with Google Drive, Evernote, Box and others. When you’re on the go, you can always utilize a scanner app on your smartphone for seamless organization.
File electronically and import your data
When you’re getting down to the wire, and the filing deadline, there likely won’t be time to leave your taxes to a pro. Luckily, there are simple, affordable online platforms (e.g., TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct) that allow you to file instantly. Even better, you can often import your data. In a few simple steps, the program can access the details of your W-2 or other forms. This will save time, and eliminate simple typos and human error. Lastly, if you use the same software that you filed with last year, it will autofill both your employer and personal information automatically (as long as these details are still current).
Can’t file in time? There’s a backup plan.
If for some reason you’re unable to complete your return and file it by the April 17 deadline, it’s not the end of the world. You can request an automatic 6-month extension by or before the deadline without incurring any penalties or additional fees. Individual tax filers can even file their extension form online via the IRS website. On the site, you can also check out other tax tips and details on extensions for individuals and businesses.
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