Income Tax Deadline Advice: E-File to Reduce Errors
The dreaded tax day deadline has come! I already filed electronically over the weekend for my $3 refund and thought I'd pass on a few tax tips courtesy of UPI...you never know, you might make off like a bandit and save some money in the process.
Filing U.S. income-tax returns online vastly reduces tax-return errors, the Internal Revenue Service said in a taxpayer reminder as tax returns are due.
Filing electronically through IRS e-file or Free File vastly cuts down on errors because computer software does the calculations, flags common mistakes and prompts the taxpayers for missing information, the tax-collection bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department said.
Another IRS tip is to take advantage of the Making Work Pay tax credit, available for the 2010 tax year for the last time as part of 2009's stimulus package.
The tax credit is worth up to $400 for individuals or $800 for married taxpayers.
Most people got the credit through less money taken out of their paycheck, which increased their take-home pay.
Filers of the Form 1040, the starting form for most individual federal returns, must attach a completed Schedule M to their returns to benefit from the credit, the IRS said. Tax software handles these calculations automatically for e-filers.
A tax credit is a direct, dollar-for-dollar reduction in tax liability. It differs from a tax deduction, which reduces taxes only by the percentage of the taxpayer's tax bracket.
Other IRS tips include:
-- Mail paper returns to the right address. Paper filers should check the right address of where to file, at IRS.gov or their form instructions, to avoid processing delays.
-- Fill in all requested information clearly, including Social Security numbers.
-- Check only one filing status. Also, check the appropriate exemption boxes.
-- Double-check all figures. While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns, the IRS said.
-- Paper filers must attach W-2s and other forms that reflect tax withholding, along with other required forms and schedules, to the front of their returns.
-- Make sure bank routing and account numbers are correct. Having a tax refund deposited directly into a taxpayer's bank account lets speeds up the tax-refund delivery. But wrong numbers can delay refunds -- or put them into the wrong account, the IRS said.
-- Sign and date the return. Filers of joint returns must both sign and date it. E-filers can sign using a self-selected personal identification number.
People who can't meet Monday's deadline can request a filing extension, through Free File or Form 4868, to avoid late-filing penalties. While an extension provides additional time to file, it doesn't relieve a taxpayer of having to pay any taxes owed by midnight Monday along with interest.
People who owe taxes can pay electronically or mail a check or money order payable to the "United States Treasury."