The Tax Filing Dash is On
By paulag01 on April 14, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
In case you slipped into a tax filing coma, the big day of April 15th is breathing heavily down your neck. It's funny how we always know it is coming, it is always the same day every year (except for gaining a day when it falls on a weekend), yet every year millions of people wait until the witching hour to make the sprint to the post office and get that thing postmarked by 11:59:59pm. And, frankly if you are waiting that long for the sprint, you better have been following Crabby McSlacker's fitness tips if you're going to make it in under the wire.
Whether you are one of the forty-seven percent of American households that owe no income tax for 2009 or not, you still need to file. And, frankly if you read that article you'll realize that the numbers do not tell the whole story.
Before you throw yourself heads down into the task, keep your wits about you. Sometimes, especially if you do your own taxes, you may be operating under incorrect assumptions. The MythBuster: 6 Income Tax Myths Debunked gives you a reality check on some common misconceptions. Most importantly for those last-minute filers:
Filing for Extension Gives Me More Time to Pay
Only if this was true. Unfortunately it is just a myth, you can file for an extension and not file your return by the deadline, however if you owe taxes it has to be paid by the due date or interest will accrue on it. The extension will avoid penalties for not filing your return on time, however the amount is still due.
Remember, she who waits until the last minute rushes and makes errors that will only come back to haunt you such as forgetting to sign your tax return (happens more than you think, especially for someone in a hurry). According to the Internal Revenue Service, about 20% of taxpayers wait until the last two weeks to file and about 10 million people requested an extension last year. So, if you're one of those procrastinators, grab some of these last minute filing tips and get cranking!
Wide-spread as it is, though, tax-time procrastination is no excuse for having a last-minute panic attack. After all, the days of sorting through hundreds of receipts stacked into shoe boxes and sweating over a 1040 print-out with a dull pencil and rusty calculator are long gone. Today, virtually anyone could prepare and file their tax return electronically. Last year, 95 million, or 66% of all tax returns, were delivered via e-file, according to the IRS. And if your adjusted gross income was $57,000 or less in 2009, you actually qualify for preparing and e-filing your return for free. (Just be sure to go through the IRS web site to receive this service.)
Remember that E-filing is the fastest, most error-free way to file. Your refund can be deposited directly into your bank account in 10 days or so.
Not all post offices are open until that midnight deadline, so be forewarned. Plan and check ahead of time if you're planning on procrastinating (yes I see the irony in this sentence). Wisebread offers some resources to do just that in their last minute filing tips.
Top 10 Last Minute Tax Filing Tips from Lynnette Khalfani-Cox are handy. To the point of not making errors she offers number ten:
10. Review your return... one more time
Before you seal the envelope or hit send, go over all the information on your return again. Errors may delay the processing of your return, so it's best for you to make sure everything on your return is correct.
I am one of those people who always do their taxes way in advance. Frankly when I used to prepare my own, I was done by mid-March. Now that I have an accountant do them (the business schedules are too much to deal with) I still have everything signed, sealed, and delivered early. It's not so much that I'm dying to pay, but I want to know what my first quarter estimated taxes are as well so I can plan. Cash flow is always king in a business and no time is that more evident than at tax time.
While we moan and groan about taxes and debate about the degree to which government spending should flow, there is always something to be grateful about in the process. While not related to Uncle Sam's taxes, this single mother's manifesto by none other than J.K. Rowling gives credence to checking your own perspective on labels, government programs, and taxes.
For next year, I know, you've vowed to get more organized. If you want to make that resolution a reality, check out these resources that will have you humming along so you are chilling out and doing something you love the evening of April 15, 2011, instead of bonding with the post office.
- Avoid The April 15th Mad Dash with This Tax Prep Schedule
- Tax Tips for Freelancers
- 10 Tips to Organize Your Taxes So You Can Simplify and Thrive
- Taxes for Working Writers - Getting Organized for Income Tax Season (tips are great for all folks, not just writers)
- Confused by Schedule M?
If you've filed, then sit back, relax, and plan for next year. If it's still on your to-do list, get started now and good luck!
Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life and career coaching for women to help you boost your confidence and break through your limitations so you can re-ignite freedom and a sense of adventure in your life. Get the free eCourse "5 Steps to Move from Fear to Freedom & Experience Greater Confidence" at her website.
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