Because the traditional tax deadline of April 15 is a holiday this year, the deadline for filing your 2015 federal income tax return has been extended to April 18.
That's all well and good to have an extra weekend, but you shouldn't procrastinate any longer. Waiting until the last minute to fill out your return could lead to more mistakes and missed deductions. It also gives scammers more time to steal your identity and your return.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reminds taxpayers that it can help with last minute assistance, even though its budget for customer support has been slashed in recent years. It says there are a number of interactive tools at IRS.gov that can help.
Interactive Tax Assistant
Among them is Interactive Tax Assistant, which the IRS says can answer most taxpayer questions and point taxpayers in the right direction for help. Tax preparation software has taken a lot of the guesswork out of filing, as well as reducing the number of errors.
If you earned $62,000 or less in 2015 you can use the IRS Free File program, choosing from one of the 13 commercial tax-prepartion software packages that participate. You just have to answer a few general questions and the software does the calculations. It's the same software others pay to use.
Self-employed taxpayers have a bit more at stake, since there are many business deductions available that, if not claimed, can leave money on the table. Dara Luber, Senior Manager of Retirement at TD Ameritrade, emailed us a list of five business deductions she says are often overlooked.
- Retirement plan expenses: Individual/Solo 401k, SEP IPA, SIMPLE IRA, and profit-sharing plans may provide tax benefits.
- Travel expenses: Mileage, hotel, meals, and baggage fees can all be deducted for associated business travel.
- Medical insurance: A small business owner can write off medical insurance costs.
- Home office expenses: It must be space solely dedicated to business, but you can deduct a portion of your utilities and mortgage.
- Subscriptions, supplies, or membership expenses: Expenses associated with a professional organization, a trade publication aimed at helping you grow your business, can be deducted.
Meanwhile, if you've already filed your return and are wondering when you will get your refund, the IRS has a tool for that. Where's My Refund tracks the progress of your payment, much like you would track the progress of a package you're having shipped.
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