You're busy, you're still getting organized — whatever the reason, you still haven't filed your taxes yet. But waiting until the last minute to file your taxes means you might be rushed. And that means there's a higher likelihood of making mistakes or overlooking something important.
To help you avoid making a mess of an already unpleasant task, we put together a list of things you should keep in mind as you get ready to face the job you've been putting off for months.
1. The Sooner You File ... ... The sooner you can get a refund. The IRS says it issues nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days.
2. Waiting to File Puts You at Risk Taxpayer identity theft is no joke. It generally involves someone using your Social Security number to get a fraudulent refund — preventing you from getting yours in a timely manner.
3. If You’re a Tax Fraud Victim, You Need to Prepare a Paper Return “First, I would definitely contact the IRS, and you should also contact the credit bureaus, and then you would just have to paper file your return if they already e-filed using your Social Security number,” said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert with TurboTax.
4. The Deadline to File ... ... Is April 18. No, that's not a typo. April 15 falls on a Saturday this year, and April 17 is a holiday in the District of Columbia. So Tuesday, April 18 it is.
5. It's a Hard Deadline Your paper return must be postmarked by April 18. An e-file must be submitted before midnight on April 18. Otherwise, the IRS could slap you with fees.
6. But You Can Get an Extension You can file Form 4868, which gives you an additional six months to file.
7. The Extension Is for Paperwork, Not Payment If you think you’ll owe taxes, you must make your best guess using previous years' information and an online estimate calculator.
8. Unpaid Taxes Carry Fees... Interest on unpaid taxes compounds daily from the due date of the return to the date they're paid in full. The failure-to-pay fee is one-half of 1 percent of your unpaid balance for each month, or part of a month, up to 25 percent, until the debt is paid in full.
9 ... And Even Affect Your Credit Score If your unpaid-tax problem gets bad enough, the government may make a claim to your property until the debt is repaid. That’s called a tax lien, and it will show up on your credit report.
10. Make Sure You Have All Your Forms "Keep a list of all of your jobs during the tax year," said Abby Eisenkraft, an enrolled agent and CEO of Choice Tax Solutions. “Some taxpayers receive numerous W-2s (think actors, temps, etc.). Freelancers — you may receive numerous Form 1099-Misc; be sure you received them all."
You can see the full list of 50 things to know if you haven’t done your taxes on Credit.com.
Christine DiGangi is deputy managing editor of engagement at Credit.com.
Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.