Tax tips help for filing close to Tuesday deadline
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
4/11/12 at 3:21 AM
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to help you with
your 2011 tax
You have until midnight Tuesday to either electronically transmit your federal income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service or get its U.S. mail envelope postmarked.
Tax preparation doesn't need to give you a headache, says IRS spokesman David Stell. He offers six tips to make filing your return easier.
Put off procrastinating: Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the last minute. Rushing to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error.
Visit IRS website: More than 322 million visits were made to the IRS website in 2011. Make "1040 Central" ( tulsaworld.com/irs1040central) your first stop to check for the latest news and find answers to your questions about tax filing.
Use Free File: Let Free File do the hard work with brand-name tax software or online with Free File Fillable Forms, accessible at tulsaworld.com/FillableFormsFAQs Taxpayers can prepare their own tax returns and e-file them for free through IRS Free File ( tulsaworld.com/IRSFreeFile). If you made $57,000 or less, you qualify for this service offered through a private-public partnership with tax software makers. Taxpayers making more than $57,000 who are comfortable preparing their own tax returns may also use Free File Fillable Forms, which are electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
Use IRS e-file: Last year, 79 percent of taxpayers - 106 million people - used IRS e-file ( tulsaworld.com/IRSefile), the safest, easiest and most common way to file tax returns. When owing taxes, file immediately and pay later - by Tuesday. Using e-file with direct deposit helps IRS issue refunds within 10 days.
Installment agreement: If you can't pay taxes in full by the deadline, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. More than 75 percent of people eligible for installment agreements can apply using an Online Payment Agreement, accessible at tulsaworld.com/onlinepaymentagreement Its application is available at tulsaworld.com/IRSOPAappl IRS personnel can discuss your payment options; call 800-829-1040 for info.
Extension of time to file: Ask for more time to file but not for more time to pay. Pay at least 90 percent of what you owe by the deadline or be subject to an estimated tax penalty. If the clock is still ticking, you can get an automatic six-month extension through Oct. 15. This extension of time to file must be filed or postmarked by the deadline but doesn't provide more time to pay.
You can obtain an extension through Free File or file a "Form 4868, Application for automatic extension of time to file U.S. Individual Income Tax Return" at tulsaworld.com/IRSForm4868, or call 800-829-3676 to have it mailed, allowing 10 days for mailing.
Find help to file by Tuesday
Here are last-minute tips on filing your federal income taxes from USA.gov, the government's official web portal, brought to life by the E-government Act of 2002. The website makes it easy for the public to get government information and services.
If the kids, the job and the bills have made it possible for you to completely forget about Uncle Sam's taxes again this year, check out "IRS kicks off 2012 tax season with deadline extended to April 17" at tulsaworld.com/taxseasonkickoff
Also see tulsaworld.com/USAGOVtaxes, which has information you'll need to make filing by Tuesday easier.
If filing makes you nervous or apprehensive about what is expected of you, check out this list of "10 things you should know about making federal payments" at tulsaworld.com/10thingsonfedpay It quickly explains how to pay, what information you need to include and how to file online.
If you've already filed, you might be looking forward to a refund. If you're wondering when to expect it, check its status online at tulsaworld.com/taxrefundstatus or use the phone app at tulsaworld.com/taxrefundphoneapp
Even if taxes have slipped your mind, using these resources makes it easier and faster to file.
Original Print Headline: Tax-filing tips for deadline pushers
Tulsa World consumer writer Phil Mulkins wants to know which topics interest you. Call 918-699-8888, email your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Tulsa World Consumer, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.
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Waiting until the last minute to prepare your taxes? Here are some tips on filing your federal forms. Courtesy