Tax season is upon us. The April 15 deadline will be here before you know it. Whether you are doing your taxes yourself or you have an accountant doing them for you, there are some things that you don’t want to forget when filing your taxes.
If you are one of the many tax procrastinators out there, you are probably finding yourself up against the rapidly-approaching deadline of April 15. If you haven’t done your taxes yet, you still have plenty of time to get them done. But in a hurry to reach the deadline, don’t forget to do these seven things, or you may incur penalties.
Tax preparation checklist:
Don’t forget to sign your return.
Sounds obvious, right? But it is very easy to overlook. If you are e-filing, you will be prompted to verify with your electronic signature, but if you are printing out returns and mailing them in, don’t forget to sign and date them. Also make sure that you make a photocopy of the signed return for yourself—you may need these for obtaining future financing.
Make sure tax preparer information is complete.
Even if you are preparing them yourself, make sure that information is filled out. This is even more important if someone else is doing your taxes because if you do a paid-tax preparer, they also have some liability in preparing your taxes correctly. Should a problem arise in the future, knowing exactly who prepared each tax return is important.
Send in the taxes that you owe with the return.
This one really goes hand-in-hand with making sure your return is signed—make sure you have included the payment for any taxes that you owe. But if it is coming down to the deadline, you may be in such a hurry to get your tax form filed that you forget this, and that could cost you extra in penalties.
Send your return to the correct address.
While this sounds simple, it can actually be a bit confusing. Tax returns that the filer gets a return are sent to one address and tax returns that owe money are typically sent to a different address. Sending a tax return on which your owe money to the wrong address could delay receipt of payment.
Complete your return address on the envelope.
This is one time that it is extremely important to put your return address on the envelope. Whether it is insufficient postage, the wrong address, if the address is illegible, or any other reason that your tax envelope would be undeliverable, you don’t want your personal tax return to become “lost in the mail.” Your social security number, along with any of your dependents, is on that return. A lost return could cause you to encounter penalties and possibly make you susceptible to identity theft.
Get your tax return envelope weighed.
Don’t assume that just because you can fit your tax return in the envelope that regular postage will be okay. Bulky envelopes or oversized envelopes can also cost a little bit more to mail. Don’t guess or assume that you have enough postage on the envelope; take the time to stop by the post office and have it weighed just to be sure.
File for an extension, if necessary.
If you see that you are not going to be able to get your taxes filed on time, make sure you file for an extension. This will prevent you from being penalized for a late return, but allow you the time that you need in order to finish.
If you are lucky enough to be getting a refund, do you have a plan for how to spend it? Earnest.com has some ideas for spending your tax refund wisely: