How to Avoid Mistakes When Filing at the Last Minute

Many people put off filing their taxes until the last minute. Filing in a rush can result in mistakes that could delay your tax return, cause interest to accrue on taxes left owed, or trigger an audit. Here are some tips to help you get your tax return in on time and error free.

Use tax preparation software
Tax preparation software is the easiest and fastest way to get your tax return completed and filed by the deadline. Software, like that which is provided on E-file.com, handles all the calculations and also helps to identify deductions and credits which you may be eligible for. If you used our software previously, and none of your information has changed, we can also prefill your personal information. When preparing tax documents in a hurry, it's easy to make mistakes when entering information such as mailing address, social security number, or prior year adjusted gross income, which can cause issues with your return.

Always sign your tax return
Tax returns are invalid without signatures. No matter if you're mailing a paper form or electronically filling, don't forget to sign your tax return. E-file.com's tax software walks you through the process of adding your electronic signature to your tax documents.

Report all of your income. If you're employed but earned additional income on the side, don't forget to report income for which you received a 1099. Even if you do not include this, the IRS still has the information, and failing to report income can trigger an audit. Keep your W-2s and 1099s together so you can access them quickly when filing at the last minute.

Double check your bank numbers
The IRS makes it easy for you to get your tax refund by sending the money to your bank by direct deposit. Take a moment to confirm that you've entered the correct bank account and routing number on your tax form. If you enter incorrect numbers, the IRS will mail your refund to your address of record, which could take extra time. If the banking information you enter mistakenly turns out to be someone else's, that person could end up with your refund.

File for extension
Failing to file by the tax deadline can be a costly mistake, but it's easy enough to avoid. If you think you won't make the tax filing deadline, file an extension. This gives you six additional months to submit your return. Note, if you don't file and you owe, the IRS can start adding interest to the total, which can add up to a significant amount over time.

Missing The Deadline & Filing Late

We know that it's important to get your tax returns in on time. But there are some misconceptions as to what really happens if you file your taxes late (or not at all.) For example, did you know that you receive an automatic two-month extension if you are out of the country on April 15th due to qualified business travel, or if you are in the military on active duty? The IRS typically starts sending out notices in May if they haven't received your tax return.

Take the quiz and check your knowledge of the consequences when not filing your tax return on time.

Quiz: What Happens if You File Your Tax Return Late?

True or False: If you are due a tax refund but file your tax return late, you won't be penalized because you don't owe money. Answer
False. You will not owe interest because there's no balance due. However, you will still be penalized for late filing (or failure to file) if you file your return after Tax Day but did not request a six-month extension or qualify for the automatic two-month extension.

You filed for a six-month extension just before Tax Day, but anticipate that you owe several thousand dollars in taxes, which you currently don't have. You file your tax return in May after you've had time to sort through your tax documents. When was your tax bill due in 2017? Answer

A. June 15, 2017
B. April 18, 2017
C. October 16, 2017
D. December 31, 2017

B. Filing for an extension gives you extra time to file your return without being penalized, but does not grant you extra time to pay. Regardless of when you actually file your return, your balance is always going to be due on Tax Day.

It's June and you still haven't filed your tax return or paid your balance due. You did not request a six-month extension or qualify for the automatic two-month extension. Which of the following penalties will you be subject to? Answer

A. Failure to file
B. Failure to pay
C. Late filing
D. All of the above

D. Failure to file and failure to pay are two separate penalties which apply if you haven't made any payments towards your balance due at all, or made any good faith effort to file a tax return (including filing an extension.) Once you are 60 days past the filing deadline without the protection of an extension, the late filing penalty is the lesser of $100 or your balance due; failing to file can be up to 25% of your balance due.

True or False: You can still request a six-month extension after Tax Day has passed and not be penalized. Answer
False. Once Tax Day has passed, you cannot request a six-month extension to be free from late filing and failure to file penalties.

You were hospitalized due to a car accident and didn't get around to filing your taxes, or requesting an extension, prior to Tax Day. Which of the following tax-related expenses will the IRS waive when you present proof you were in the hospital? Answer

A. Failure to pay (underpayment) penalties
B. Failure to file penalty
C. Interest on your balance due
D. Tax payment plan fees

A. The IRS will never waive interest, and tax payment plan setup fees can be reduced for financial hardship but never fully waived. Penalties for not filing a tax return are rarely waived, but underpayment penalties will be waived the most often in certain circumstances, like financial hardship and hospitalization.

 

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