The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid waiting until April 18 to file their taxes. For those who do wait, the IRS has easy-to-access online resources to help.
These eight tips from the IRS can help make filing less taxing:
1) Review tax returns carefully. Taxpayers who rush to beat the deadline may miss a tax benefit or, worse, make a mistake. Errors usually delay tax refunds and could cause the IRS to send a letter.
2) Validate e-signature. If a taxpayer changed tax software products for 2017, they may need their prior-year adjusted gross income to validate their electronic signature. Taxpayers can learn more about how to verify their identity and electronically sign a tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return. Always keep a copy of tax returns.
3) Visit IRS.gov. Go online for tax information and resources. The Interactive Tax Assistant, Tax Trails, Frequently Asked Questions, Tax Topics, and IRS Tax Maps are useful resources.
4) Use IRS Free File. Taxpayers who made $64,000 or less can use free tax software to prepare their federal tax return. Free File Fillable Forms is available for those who made more than that. These are electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
5) File electronically. Kick the paper habit and e-file. IRS e-file is safe, easy and accurate. Taxpayers are 20 times less likely to make a mistake with an e-filed return compared to filing a paper return. Tax software catches and corrects common paper filing errors. It also alerts users to overlooked tax credits and deductions.
6) File on time. Taxpayers who owe but can’t pay in full by the April 18 due date should still file on time and pay as much as possible. This will reduce potential penalties and interest charges. For unpaid taxes, people may apply for an installment agreement to pay over time. The easiest way to apply is to use the Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. To apply by mail, use IRS Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request.
7) Request an extension of time to file. People can request a six-month extension electronically through tax software, including FreeFile, by using Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Taxpayers may also make an electronic payment and designate it as a “Form 4868” payment. A reminder: An extension of time to file a tax return is not an extension of time to pay taxes owed. Be sure to e-file or mail the form and pay an estimate of any tax due by the April 18 due date to avoid penalty and interest charges. The IRS has the flexibility to work with those who cannot pay all taxes owed.
8) Visit a Local IRS Office. All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers now operate by appointment. Taxpayers can find most answers online at IRS.gov, but if they need in-person assistance, they will need to make an appointment.
Taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year tax return to verify their identity. Learn more about how to verify your identity and electronically sign your tax return at Validating Your Electronically Filed Tax Return.