Last Minute Tax Tips from CEA

Just getting around to doing your taxes?    

You are in good company – there are about 40 million other taxpayers who haven’t filed yet either.

But don’t worry. There is still time to get your taxes done correctly and filed on time. “With the tax deadline approaching, taxpayers shouldn’t panic. The IRS has many options available to help people as they finalize their tax returns or if they need to get extra time to file,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

The IRS has tax help, publications and information on IRS.gov to help last-minute filers. Additionally, IRS telephone lines will have a special Saturday opening on April 15 from 9 am to 5 pm to help taxpayers with last-minute issues.

Carpenter Evert has put together a list of last-minute things to remember to help you get your taxes done right and on time.

  1. Filing Date. You have a few extra days to file this year – the due date is typically April 15. If the 15th lands on a weekend, the due date is moved to the following Monday. As an extra bonus this year, Monday is a legal holiday in Washington DC called Emancipation Day. The holiday pushes the tax deadline one more day to Tuesday, April 17. Emancipation Day celebrates President Lincoln’s signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862, freeing over 3,000 slaves in DC.
  2. Check for mistakes. Even simple mistakes can hold up the processing of your tax return. Take the time to review your return for errors, and use electronic filing if possible. Read Common Tax Filing Errors to Avoid for more information.
  3. Taxable and Nontaxable Income. It’s important to know the difference. Taxable income includes money you receive, such as wages and tips. It can also include income from property or services such as bartering. All taxable income needs to be included on your tax return, even if you did not get a W-2 or 1099 form. There are some nontaxable categories of income, like life insurance proceeds, scholarship money, and gifts. Read the details here.
  4. Saver’s Credit. You may qualify for the Saver’s Credit for eligible contributions you make to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA. You have until April 17, 2018, to make IRA contributions for 2017. Find out more.
  5. Earned Income Credit. Find out if you’re eligible for this tax credit that assists middle and low income earners. See if this applies to you. 
  6. Tax Benefits for Parents. One place kids can actually save you money is when you file your tax return. The most common deductions for parents are – take children as dependents, claim the Child Tax Credit, child and dependent care credit, adoption credit, higher education credits, student loan interest, and health insurance deductions.
  7. Tax Benefits for Higher Education. Higher education costs paid in 2016 can mean tax savings when you file your tax returns. If taxpayers, their spouses or their dependents took post-high school coursework last year, they may be eligible for a tax credit or deduction. There are two tax credits available to help taxpayers offset the costs of higher education. The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit may reduce the amount of income tax owed. Use Form 8863 to claim the education credits.
  8. Gifts to Charity. Don’t forget to include items or money you gave to charity last year. Clothing, household goods, and cash donations are all deductible. IRS Publication 526  has further details on making gifts to charity, including what records you need to have.
  9. Medical and Dental Expenses. If you have had a rough year with out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses, you may be able to qualify for a significant deduction. For examples of limitations and costs you can and can’t deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.
  10. Health Care Tax Reporting. While most taxpayers will simply need to check a box on their tax return to indicate they had health coverage, there are also lines on your tax form related to the health care law. Visit IRS.gov/aca for details and updates.
  11. Watch out for scams. It’s especially important to be aware of online and telephone scams during the tax season. Read the article IRS Warns Taxpayers of Surge in Automated Phone Call Scams for more details. If you have been approached by scammers, the IRS has a system to report phishing and other online scams here.
  12. Use IRS Online Tools. The IRS has many useful online tools. The Interactive Tax Assistant tool provides answers to many tax questions. It gives the same answers that an IRS representative would give over the phone.

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