Haven’t filed your taxes yet? Neither have about 25% of other taxpayers. So, chin up. Take a deep breath. Then power through the process with these last-minute tax tips—and a little help from Avery.
Focus. Feel sharpest at a certain time of the day? Tax preparation requires concentration. And that’s especially true when you’re under pressure. So, work on your return when you’re peaking mentally. Snack on foods that fuel mental agility (such as almonds or walnuts), or boost your energy with a cup of green tea or coffee.
Gather that paperwork. Yes, it’s a pain. But, working on your return without first having all the necessary paperwork only makes the process longer. So, find whatever you need—which could include Forms W2, 1099-INT and 1098, as well as receipts for business, medical, real estate tax and charitable contribution payments. Use last year’s tax return to guide you. Make sure to only submit the forms and schedules the IRS requires.
Make organizing easier. Simplify the process of sorting paperwork by using different file folders for categories such as income statements, deductible expenses and investment information using Avery File Folder Labels.
Double-check your Social Security number. Believe it or not, many people incorrectly enter their Social Security number. This confuses the IRS—never a good thing. Besides, you’ll need an accurate Social Security number to qualify for credits, exemptions and deductions.
Make last-minute contributions. Many contributions must be made by December 31st of the previous year. But, you can often sneak in some tax-deductible contributions—such as IRA or Health Savings Account payments—before the April 15th deadline, and lower your tax burden. Check with your tax professional for more information.
Itemize. It’s tempting to just take your standard deduction when playing beat-the-clock with the IRS. But, itemizing could result in huge savings, especially if you’ve made large charitable, medical or real estate tax payments.
Sign the return. Sounds simple, right? Believe it or not, many taxpayers forget to sign and date their return. And that’s a problem. The IRS views an unsigned return as being invalid.
File electronically. Tax software speeds the preparation process, provides reminders about eligible deductions and catches most math mistakes. Many tax preparation companies offer free e-filings for basic returns, and the IRS provides free tax software to individuals who earn less than $60,000.
Ask for more time. Sometimes the smartest move is to request an extension. It’s better than rushing through your return, forgetting valuable deductions, overlooking required paperwork or making silly math errors. Filing Form 4868 usually gives you another six months to get your act together. You can also avoid late-payment penalties and possible interest charges by paying at least 90% of the estimated amount you owe. Can’t afford to do that? File for the extension, pay as much as you can and then set up a payment plan with the IRS.
Store in a safe place. Once your taxes have been filed, hold onto that paperwork. Keep your tax files in a protective storage container for future reference. Indicate what’s inside the container with Avery Full-Sheet Labels so they’re easy to identify at a glance. Use the free pre-designed templates on Avery Design & Print to create custom labels right from your printer in no time.
While Avery can’t figure your taxes for you, we can make the filing process simpler this year—and beyond. But don’t be too hard on yourself for being a tax procrastinator. It’s a busy world, and preparing your taxes may not be a priority for you. And, take solace knowing you have plenty of company. Just apply these tips to make the job a little easier…and then reward yourself when you’re finished!