Five Questions: Beating the clock
Last-minute advice on tax preparations
Q: What is the deadline for taxes?
A: April 15 is the deadline for filing with the IRS and paying the balance due on your 2009 tax liability.
Q: How does someone apply for an extension for filing his or her 2009 taxes?
A: Filing an extension (Form 4868) with the IRS will allow you to extend the date to Oct. 15 for filing the return, but it does not extend the time to pay. Any balance due after April 15 deadline will be subject to penalty and interest.
Q: What are some last-minute mistakes that happen often because people are rushed?
A: Many people mistakenly believe that filing an extension subjects their return to more scrutiny by the IRS. Actually, filing an inaccurate return is more likely to cause the IRS to examine your return. Examination is usually triggered by inaccurate calculations and questionable deductions. And those examinations generally happen a year or more after the filing.
Q: What is the fastest way to file your taxes and the fastest way to receive your refund?
A: Electronically filing your return, or extension, and using the direct deposit, or the automatic withdrawal features now available, in my opinion, is the best way to file. With these features you can be assured, by way of confirmations issued by the IRS, that your return has reached the IRS and you have met your deadline.
Q: What tips do you have for last-minute filing?
A: My advice to those that choose to prepare their taxes themselves is first, familiarize yourself with the latest tax law changes. There have been many in the last year. The IRS website (www.irs.gov) is very user-friendly and is full of information to help you. Second, be careful before assuming that a credit applies to you. Read the qualifications carefully. And, lastly, compare the finished return with the previous year's return.