Tips for last-minute tax return filers

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(April 15, 2016) -- If you’re scrambling to get your taxes filed Friday, you can breathe a bit.

The Washington D.C. holiday, Emancipation Day, falls on April 15 too this year, so taxpayers have three extra days to get their taxes filed.

Liberty Tax Service franchise owner Kazem Tabatabai says he sees taxpayers make a lot of mistakes. One of the biggest is leaving a lot of money on the table by not itemizing.

“You have paid for braces for your children and they are your dependent,” Tabatabai said. “You can claim that as an itemized deduction.”

Tabatabai also says empty nesters with children in college often forego claiming them on their tax returns, even though they’re still supporting their children. They may be eligible for multiple credits.

Even when people do have a good idea of what they can claim, Tabatabai says some are overwhelmed by the mountain of paperwork they think they need in case of an audit.

“Sometimes, they make it difficult for themselves,” Tabatabai said. “They think they need to get 20 pages of documents for prescriptions.”

Instead, he suggests calling your pharmacy and asking for a printout of every medication you’ve purchased in 2015. That total can then be itemized.

For the people who know they can’t get their taxes filed in time though, Tabatabai suggests filing for an extension as soon as possible.

Anyone making less than $62, 000 a year can file an extension for free online.

But Tabatabai says people must remember that even though your return won’t be due on April 18, the payment for what you expect to owe, is.

“If you file for extension, but you don’t pay what you will owe, then there is a late payment penalty,” Tabatabai said. “Filing for extension, does not exempt you from penalty for late payment.”

Tabatabai says the tax return mistake he’s most shocked by is people not filing at all.

Almost a billion dollars in tax refunds was left in the department of treasury last year. It wasn’t claimed because the owners of that money never filed.