Five Tips to Avoid Tax Time Stress
March 12, 2010 – Special Edition TT-2010-50
Filing your tax return doesn't have to be stressful. The IRS has put together five stress-relieving tips to help you.
- Don't Procrastinate Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Rushing to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error.
- Visit the IRS Website In 2009, more than 296 million visits were made to IRS.gov. Make 1040 Central your first stop to learn the latest news and find answers to your questions.
- File Your Return Electronically Last year, two out of three tax returns were filed electronically. More than 800 million tax returns have been processed safely and securely over the past 20 years. Use e-file and direct deposit to get your refund in as few as10 days. E-filed returns have a much lower error rate. Taxpayers receive a fast acknowledgement that the IRS received the return, a service not available to paper filers. You can e-file through your tax preparer or commercial software. Or, you can use Free File, a service offered by the IRS and private sector partners to prepare and e-file your federal return for free. Again, see IRS.gov for more information.
Don't Panic if You Can't Pay If you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe by the April 15th deadline, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest. You should also contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide some relief such as a short-term extension to pay, an installment agreement or an offer in compromise.
More than 75 percent of taxpayers eligible for an Installment Agreement can apply using the Web-based Online Payment Agreement application available on IRS.gov. To find out more about this simple and convenient process type "Online Payment Agreement" in the search box on the IRS.gov homepage.
- Request an Extension of Time to File - But Pay on Time If the April 15 clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension of time to file until October 15. However, this extension of time to file does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. If you have not paid at least 90 percent of the total tax due by the April deadline you may also be subject to an Estimated Tax Penalty. To obtain an extension, just file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
Both TaxACT Free Federal and Deluxe editions include Form 4868. After starting your TaxACT return, you can navigate to that part of the interview in the "Federal Q&A" tab. Under "Miscellaneous Topics", select "Request an extension of time to file".