Some of us just need to buy a little extra time when handling our IRS tax obligations each year. If you are part of this group this year and you filed for an extension of time to pay your tax bill, your 6-month grace period is almost up.
Consider a few easy things you can do to ensure you meet this year’s deadline for extension filers on Monday, October 17, 2016.
Get organized – now.
If you aren’t a stickler about being organized, it’s time to at least buckle down a bit and get your tax documents in gear. Look for old tax returns. Pull your receipts together. Put bank statements, invoices, and other relevant records in an order where you can easily locate each document – and in a place that’s both safe and accessible when you need to get to this financial paperwork in a pinch. If you’re a small business owner, it’s critical to have all of these records neatly organized, especially your business receipts on expenses you may be able to write off on your tax return.
Carefully review your personal information and financial data for your return.
This is your last hurrah to file that 2015 income tax return that’s been sitting on your desk covered by sticky notes and gum wrappers for the past 6 months. So, you must be 100% certain that what you are communicating on your return is correct.
Triple-check to confirm that your legal name, date of birth, home address, and Social Security information are all completely accurate on the tax form. Of course, you can’t forget about listing any W-2 and 1099 income you made last year, which you should review even more closely. It’s easy to miss a number, comma, or decimal point that could throw off your tax situation upon hitting the desk of an IRS agent.
Account for any major changes in your life from 2015.
Did you experience any life changes during 2015? The reason you must look at that year is because it’s a potential reflection on your 2015 federal income tax return – not a reflection on 2016. If you married your high school sweetheart, had a child, got a divorce, or lost a spouse, any of these events could have a big impact on both your tax-filing status with the IRS and your overall tax liability.
The basic filing status options available are single filer, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head-of-household, and widow(er). Marriage and parenthood can lead to more deductions as well, so it’s essential to see how your life changes could lead to tax savings.
Be on the lookout for IRS tax fraud.
Tax scams have become prevalent year-round. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about April 15th, July 15th, or October 15th. Scammers are always eager to bilk personal information and tax refund money out of innocent taxpayers.
Phone calls and e-mails you receive from someone claiming to be from the IRS are the most prevalent methods sheisters use to contact individuals. They may be threatening and may ask for your Social Security Number or credit card information. They may claim that if you do not follow their instructions, you will be arrested and imprisoned. Keep in mind that the IRS should only contact you by regular mail.
It’s also worth mentioning that if you have your taxes prepared by a third party, make sure the person doing this is legitimate and has a solid track record. Extension filers who are facing a final deadline from the IRS may be easier targets for fraudulent tax preparers.
Plan to file on time next year.
Regardless of the personal circumstances that made you file for an extension this year, try planning to file your tax return on time in 2017. The April 17th personal filing deadline is only months away already. Be smart and create a template for yourself now that you can use to more efficiently prepare your tax records and make your filing in the spring next year. Then you won’t have to worry about getting another tax extension again, which basically prolongs a task you have to do at some point anyway.