If you’re reading this, chances are you’re panicking about your taxes. Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to file them before the deadline for whatever reason (I’m looking at all of us procrastinators), or perhaps you have no idea what’s going on and feel overwhelmed by it all. Which, frankly, is normal — taxes can be confusing! But don’t worry: We’ve got some tips for filing late (or not at all) at the eleventh hour.
Tax Filing Guidelines
The first thing to do is to get your documents organized. If you haven’t done this yet, don’t panic, it’s not too late. Start by determining how much money you’ll owe in taxes and what deductions and credits are available.
Once all of this information is gathered, start the filing process! It’s best not to wait until April 15—when most taxpayers have until midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST) on April 15 each year before penalties are assessed for late filing their returns.
- Check all your W2s from employers.
You want to ensure that all your W2 documents are accurate and up-to-date.
If you’re an employee, your employer should send you a copy of your W2 document. It should include wages and taxes withheld from your paychecks for the previous year. The W2 can be mailed or hand-delivered. If it’s hand-delivered, ensure it’s from someone who works at your company, not a stranger.
Your employer might also send more than one W2 to different people in the same household if multiple jobs are held during the year or if there are other reasons for having two separate employers. Check them carefully to ensure they match each other and what was on last year’s return. If anyone has questions about their specific situation, they can contact their payroll department directly because they will be able to provide accurate information based on their records. This may be about how much was paid out over time and any deductions taken out over those same periods.
- Look for all your 1099 forms.
Form 1099 is one of multiple IRS tax forms (see the variations below) used to compile and submit an information return and report various sorts of income outside wages, salaries, and tips (for which Form W-2 is used instead).
Types of Form 1099
1099-NEC: Nonemployee Compensation
|For identifying non-employee pay, such as income generated as a self-employed person, independent contractor, or freelancer.
Example: An independent worker, a freelance writer, or food delivery rider
1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Information
|For funds you receive in the form of rent, royalties, awards, prizes, dividend replacement payments, medical and healthcare expenses, and other fees.
Example: Apartment rent you received you’ve leased
- Get receipts for all tax-deductible expenses.
Be sure to get and organize all your receipts for all expenses. The IRS only recognizes proof of an expense if it comes as a receipt. If you forget to compile your bills, it’s usually too late to go back, so make sure you do this right away so you don’t miss anything!
You can use your smartphone or digital camera to take photos of receipts, but keep them organized and backed up on another device (like a hard drive). That way, if something happens to your phone/camera or other devices (like someone steals it), you still have copies of everything stored elsewhere.
If you’re unsure what can be deducted, look through last year’s tax return for guidance. But make sure that all deductions are appropriate for this year too! Any expenses not supported by an itemized receipt will not count towards your total deduction amount.
Preparing and compiling your receipts will also be helpful in case you are in the process of tax debt settlement. In this way, it would be easier for your tax debt relief experts to get right into the procedure and negotiations.
- Make an appointment with a licensed CPA or tax attorney.
Consulting with a tax professional is essential if you’re filing a tax return or even the best in getting tax debt relief. Whether you want to make sure that your taxes are being filed correctly or need advice on what deductions and credits can help you get a bigger refund, an appointment with a licensed tax expert can help you avoid mistakes and ensure your tax returns are complete.
If you don’t have enough time or means to do it yourself (or if your situation is too complicated), then be sure to reach out to this kind of expert. They’ll be able to offer guidance on how best to handle any aspect of the process: from making sure that all information is included on forms properly; reporting all income sources accurately; claiming every possible deduction and exemption; understanding how different types of income affect eligibility for certain benefits; finding ways around penalties for missing deadlines; filling out complex forms accurately without making mistakes and more!
They may also be able to detect fraud schemes before they occur so as not only to prevent penalties but also to avoid losing money altogether.
Beware of Tax Filing Fraud
Tax filing fraud is a problem that affects everyone, from the individual taxpayer to large corporations. The IRS estimates that tax fraud costs the U.S. government $26 billion annually—and that’s what they know about!
- Watch out for messages or emails claiming to be from the IRS.
The IRS also cautions taxpayers to watch out for messages or emails claiming to be from the IRS. These communications often surprise people by demanding immediate payment and threatening police action, driver’s license suspension, and other consequences if you don’t pay. They may even say that you have a refund coming but must pay a fee to get it.
The IRS does not:
- Call you about tax owed without first sending you a bill in the mail for any amount due.
- Demand for tax debt settlement without allowing you to question or appeal the amount owed.
If you receive a message or email claiming to be from the IRS, don’t click any links in it as it is highly possible to be a scam, and you may be a victim of identity theft.
If someone contacts you claiming that they represent the government and demands payment for your tax filing or tax debt settlement via wire transfer, credit card number, or gift card, it’s a scam!
Filing Tips for Overseas Taxpayers
Living and working abroad does not automatically relieve you of the obligation to pay federal income taxes. However, you are given more time to file. The IRS automatically grants an extension of two months for taxpayers living or working abroad. Your income tax returns are often due in the middle of June rather than the middle of April.
Even if you’re an overseas taxpayer, several precautions and tips will help simplify the process. Take some time now to compile your documents and information before starting this year’s paperwork so that you can file on time and avoid any unnecessary delays in receiving your refund.
Contact a tax professional for guidance if you need help filing taxes or getting a tax debt settlement overseas.
You can still file your taxes even if it’s the eleventh hour, but you should keep in mind these tips to make the process easier.
Even if it’s close to the deadline and you have a pile of documents to sort through, you can still file your taxes. It’s just a bit more work than an average tax return.
The most important thing is to ensure you have all your forms and documents—the ones from employers and the ones from banks and retirement accounts.
If you’re still reading this, congratulations! We hope that you now understand better how to file taxes and that we’ve helped you feel more comfortable with the process. Don’t forget that many resources—from books and websites to apps—can give you even more insight into how the IRS works, so don’t hesitate to use them if needed. And remember: no matter how much time (or money!) it takes, filing your taxes is an important part of being an engaged citizen in America today.