Still sitting on an incomplete tax return in early April? Keep calm but get cracking. A good chunk of this year’s filers are procrastinating. As of March 24, the Internal Revenue Service received 85.3 million tax returns, down 4.7 percent from the same point last year.
Ask for an extension
Secure an appointment as soon as you can. Just because your tax professional was able to get you an extension last year, you shouldn’t assume that he or she can do it this year.
“They’re not allowed to file an extension unless you request it or give them permission,” said Cari Weston, director of tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of CPAs.
Don’t forget that extensions only give you more time to file the return. If you owe taxes, you’ll need to pay them by April 15. Your preparer can help you with that, too. He or she will give you an estimate of what you owe so you can pay the taxman on time.
Find your cheat sheet
Whether you prepare your own taxes or you need to gather your documents for your CPA, take a peek at your return from last year.
This is especially important for individuals who receive piles of 1099s or who get income from Social Security: The last thing you want to do is forget to report some income you’ve received.
If you can’t track down a 1099 – or if you have to do a little legwork to hunt down the cost basis of a stock – ask for an extension.
Our Client Organizer is designed to show your what you had the prior year and to see what you will need for the current year to file.
The other reason you should go through your previous year’s tax return is to make sure you don’t miss out on any credits or deductions. Last-minute filers are likely to miss these deductions if they rush through the process.