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Eleventh Hour Tax Returns


Tips for filing under the wire.

Procrastinators unite!

April 15th is the deadline for filing this year's income tax returns. If you have to write a fat check to Uncle Sam, it makes no sense to file before Tuesday's deadline. But if you just haven't gotten around to completing your taxes, it's time to get busy.

To extend the filing deadline to October 15th, file Form 4868. You don't have to explain why you're asking for an extension.

However, extending the deadline doesn't extend the time to pay any tax due. If you don't pay by Tuesday's deadline, you'll get slapped with an interest charge and may be hit with a penalty. Pay your estimated tax to avoid a possible penalty and file your return by the extended deadline.

Here are five basic tips for those who plan to file at the last minute:
  • You can download needed forms and publications from the IRS website, or call the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM. You can pick up forms at a local IRS office. Some post offices, public libraries and banks stock widely used forms.

  • Common mistakes include forgetting to include your W-2 earnings statement with your tax return, not signing the form, placing the federal return in the state envelope (or vice versa) and failing to provide, or giving an incorrect, Social Security number for yourself, spouse or dependents.

  • If you itemize, don't overlook deductions for student loan interest, health insurance premiums for self-employed taxpayers, higher education expenses and adoption and child credits.

  • Always check your figures to be sure your return reflects the amounts shown on Form W-2 (wages), 1098 (mortgage interest) and, if necessary, 1099 (interest and dividends). If the numbers don't match, attach an explanation with your return.

  • If you haven't already paid yourself, fund your Individual Retirement Account, regular or Roth, no later than April 15th.

Remember: You won't receive a tax rebate unless you file an income tax return. About 130 million individuals will receive rebates starting in May as part of an economic stimulus package approved by Congress.

The $168 billion plan includes tax rebates totaling up to $600 for individuals and $1,200 for couples filing jointly. Families will receive an additional $300 per child. Those who paid no income tax, but earned at least $3,000 including Social Security, railroad retirement and disabled veteran's benefits, will receive $300.

The rebate is separate from your tax refund, or money that's been over-withheld throughout the year. If you've filed, click to Where's My Refund? on the IRS website to track its progress.
The clock is ticking. It's time to sharpen a pencil or crank up your computer and file your state and federal income tax returns.

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