Filing your taxes is a complicated and often intimidating task. Here are nine tips to make your tax season easier:
1. Organize. Take time throughout the year to keep your tax records and receipts organized. Keeping everything in one place will make it much easier to fill out your tax forms.
2. Don't Procrastinate. Starting your taxes well before the deadline will give you time to sort out any problems that might arise, correct mistakes, and find all the tax deductions and exemptions that apply to you.
3. Look Up the IRS Online. The IRS website at www.irs.gov contains a wealth of useful information. You can download and print tax forms, research tax law, and find answers to frequently asked questions, among other things.
4. Get Free Tax Assistance. If you need help with your taxes, you can call the free IRS helpline through April 13; they offer recorded messages covering approximately 150 tax topics. The IRS also provides volunteer income tax assistance and tax counseling for the elderly at locations across the country; to find a volunteer location near you, call 800-829-1040.
6. E-File. E-filing is a faster and more accurate way to file your taxes, and you'll get your refund much faster as well. Click the E-File link at www.irs.gov to find companies that provide this service.
7. Double-Check. After you complete your forms, take a few minutes to double-check your information, especially your Social Security number. Check your spelling and math. If you handwrite your entries, make sure they are legible.
8. Use Direct Deposit. Directly depositing your refund into your bank account allows for a faster return and reduces the chance of theft. When you enter information for this option take the time to double check your bank account number to avoid errors.
9. Stay Calm. If you owe the IRS money and can't afford to pay, don't panic. You may be able to pay with a credit card or in monthly installments. Filing your return on time and/or requesting an extension on time can save you from late filing fees.
10. Apply for an Extension. If you cannot complete your forms by the April 15 deadline, you can request an extension by calling 888-796-1074 or e-filing Form 4868. If you owe money on your taxes, payment is still due on April 15. Failure to pay on time may subject you to late charges with interest.