Still working on your income tax returns? You’re not alone.
One quick tip is people have two extra days to file because April 15 is a Saturday. People have until midnight Monday to get their taxes postmarked. But there are more and one firm has some advice if you’ve blown off the responsibility and have only this week to get it done.
“You can definitely make tax time less stressful and draining by taking a little extra time to get organized,” says Richard Schram, regional president for CredAbility, a nonprofit credit counseling and education agency that serves clients in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, in both English and Spanish. “With a little preparation, you can file on time and enjoy your refund sooner.”
Some tips it is offering:
Keep It Simple: A single file to keep important tax documents can make the process faster and easier. If you’ve kept good records of possible deductions, such as out-of-pocket medical costs, child care, car mileage and expenses, costs for a job search and charitable donations, it’s just a matter of organizing the information, filling out the forms and doing the calculations. If you are using a tax preparer to complete your forms, having these items organized will make the process go much faster. With so much information online, you can also find most year-end statements and other tax documents on the Internet.
Still Time to Earn Deductions by Saving for Retirement: Taxpayers have until April 17 this year, or until they actually submit their tax return (whichever comes first), to fund retirement plans, such as an IRA or a Roth IRA. In a traditional, tax-deductible IRA, the amount you contribute for tax year 2011 is deductible. If you aren’t as concerned with immediate deductions but want to save on taxes in retirement, you can still make 2011 Roth IRA contributions. You can contribute up to $5,000 ($6,000 if you are age 50 or older). Roth IRA contribution limits are affected by income levels, so be sure to consult with your financial advisor.
Don’t Procrastinate – Just File: Filing a tax return is required by law, so either file by the deadline or request an extension. There are advantages to completing your tax return early, even if you owe money. The earlier you know how much you owe, the more time you will have to find funds or adjust your budget to prepare for the added expense.
Some Tips on Filing: Avoid the mad rush on April 17. If you are using the U.S. Post Office, send your form “Return Receipt Requested.” Write the number on the top edge of your form before you seal it as proof the form was in the envelope. The IRS also accepts delivery by Airborne Express, DHL Worldwide Express, FedEx and UPS.
File electronically. Go to http://www.irs.gov and click on “I need to file my tax return.” There are many electronic filing options and you can e-file for free if you earned $57,000 or less. Telephone help for individuals is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 800-829-1040 (TTY/TTD 800-829-4059).
Need help? Consider the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and AARP’s TaxAide–both offer free tax preparation for low-income taxpayers. To locate the nearest VITA site, call 1-800-906-9887. You can find a TaxAide site by visiting https://locator.aarp.org/vmis/sites/tax_aide_locator.jsp.