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The last day to file your taxes is April 15. If you waited until the home stretch, you’re not alone: The IRS told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 20 to 25 percent of Americans wait until the last two weeks to file their return.
That’s not hard to imagine. After all, if you’re getting a refund, you file as soon as you get a W-2. If you owe, you wait till the last minute: No point paying a bill before it’s due.
Then, of course, there are also those of us who procrastinate.
If it’s time for you to get started, here’s some last-minute advice that might help.
Here are some common deductible expenses you might use to beat the standard deduction:
Everyone can file their tax return electronically free through Free File.
But if you do owe, and can’t get your taxes done by April 15, no sweat. Just file an extension. That will buy you another six months, so your return won’t be due until Oct. 15.
Important: Extensions extend your time to file, not pay. If you’re going to owe, estimate your taxes and send in a check with your extension by April 15.
And if you owe and can’t pay? Send in your form or extension anyway. You’ll be penalized: The failure-to-pay penalty is 0.5 percent of what you owe for every month it’s not paid, with no time limit. So if you owe $5,000, your penalty will be $25 per month. Not fun, but not the end of the world.
The failure-to-file penalty is 10 times worse. The penalty for not filing is 5 percent per month of what you owe, up to 25 percent total. So if you owe $5,000, not filing is going to cost you $250 per month. After five months, you’ll owe the max of $1,250.
Since filling out and filing an extension form only takes a few minutes (you can even file it free electronically with TurboTax’s free extension filer), you’ve got to be either rich, crazy, or both not to.
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