NEW ORLEANS - With the deadline a week away, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that the filing deadline for 2010 tax returns is April 18, not April 15.
Emancipation Day is observed April 15 in Washington, D.C., so by law, the tax filing deadline for the nation is moved to the next business day, which is April 18.
Here are some tips from IRS spokesman Dee Harris Stepter for those who haven’t filed yet:
1. Don’t miss the filing deadline, especially if you owe taxes. File your tax return or an extension form by April 18 to avoid the late filing penalty. How much could it be? If you owe $1,000 and file late, the penalty could be as much as $250.
2. Remember an extension postpones filing, not paying. The filing extension (Form 4868) generally is accepted with or without payment as long as it is correctly completed and filed by April 18. No reason or excuse is required. An extension gives you until Oct. 17 to file your return but does not extend your time to pay taxes due. File for the extension online at no cost through IRS Free File at www.IRS.gov.
3. Pay what you can when you file. By paying as much as you can now, the amount of interest and late payment penalty owed will be less. You can request an IRS payment plan for the remainder owed. Visit IRS.gov to apply for an online payment agreement.
4. Avoid common errors. Now that most returns are prepared on computers and e-filed to the IRS, the most common errors are data input mistakes. If you make sure your Social Security Number and other information are entered correctly, chances are the tax software will give you an error-free tax return.
5. File past-due returns to avoid losing refunds. There is a three-year window to claim a tax refund. If you have not filed your 2007 tax return yet, you must file it by April 18, to claim any refund due for tax year 2007. There is no penalty for filing a refund return late, but you must also catch up on filing for 2008 and 2009 or IRS will hold your 2007 refund.
6. Don’t miss tax credits for workers. Taxpayers who worked any part of 2010 and whose household income was less than $48,362 may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. The credit can be as much as $5,666 and can be refunded to you even if you paid little or nothing in to the IRS. Four out of five eligible workers claim and get EITC, but the IRS would like to make that five out of five. Also, be sure to fill out Schedule M with your tax return to see if you qualify for the Making Work Pay Tax Credit.
7. File free online. IRS Free File at IRS.gov allows filers whose household income was $58,000 or less last year to use brand-name tax software at no cost. If your income is above $58,000, use the fillable forms section of Free File – anyone of any income level can use it free. E-filing is fast, easy and secure. It provides a fast refund, a virtually error-free return and confirmation of receipt by the IRS. About three out of four tax returns are e-filed now.
8. Get your return prepared and e-filed free. Take advantage of free tax preparation and e-filing at help sites staffed by IRS-trained volunteers. Filers whose household income was $49,000 or less or who are age 60 or older are eligible for this free service. Call the IRS site locater number at (800) 906-9887, to find the closest site.
9. Check your refund status online. Visit IRS.gov and use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. Or get the IRS’ new free phone application for iPhones and Droid phones. “IRS2Go” allows you to check on your refund and get tax tips, plus more enhancements planned.
10. Avoid tax scams. Even though the IRS encourages e-filing, e-payments and provides e-refunds, the IRS never sends e-mails about your taxes. E-mails that ask for your private information are usually phishing scams. Guard your personal information carefully. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check out the IRS “Dirty Dozen List of Tax Scams” at www.IRS.gov.