Wait, it’s Tax Day 2015 already? The most dreaded day on America’s fiscal calendar is almost here, which means there’s no more putting off the inevitable. For those who waited until the last minute to file their tax forms, it’s not too late to get it submitted before the April 15 deadline and avoid paying any penalties.
If you’re like the 20 to 25 percent of Americans who put off preparing their taxes until the final two weeks, you might be scrambling to get your paperwork in order. First things first: Make sure you have everything you need to get your taxes done right. Most employees should have received a W-2 form from their employers listing earnings and withholdings for the 2014 tax year. Others might have additional documents like a 1099 form or a 1098, also known as the Mortgage Interest Statement. You’ll also need your Social Security number and the Social Security number of your spouse if filing jointly.
While post offices typically extend their hours to allow taxpayers to get their forms mailed in on time, filing electronically is certainly the preferred method for most procrastinators. “Doing so, whether through E-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common mistakes and prompts taxpayers for missing information,” the IRS said in a statement this week.
The government recommends using its filing service to submit returns when crunched for time. Visit irs.gov/freefile for step-by-step instructions on using its free tax preparation software. You can also use any number of tax preparation websites like TurboTax or H&R Block to get your tax forms done in a timely manner -- however, be prepared to pay a service fee.
Still need more time to file? You can avoid paying penalties by requesting a tax-filing extension. You may be able to get an extra six months, depending on your situation. However, the process to extend the deadline must be completed by April 15, so make sure to do it ASAP.
One way to apply for an extension is to use the IRS’ Free File service. You can also mail Form 4868 to the IRS by April 15. Keep in mind that a filing extension doesn’t mean you can avoid paying taxes on-time -- payments, even if you just estimate, are still due by April 15.