INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The tax filing deadline is right around the corner—April 15.
If you haven't filed yet, gather what you need, which is often more than just your W-2 forms.
"If you have any other source of income, you'll want to gather your 1099s for those. You'll also want to make sure you have your 1095 form to prove that you had health insurance coverage, that's very important," says Casey Marx with Crown Haven Wealth Advisors
Showing proof of insurance is something new to most Americans. That form should be sent to you in the mail, if you have company-provided insurance. Something else that's new was this year's record-breaking government shutdown. It caused many to get all their financial paperwork later than normal. Before you file, make sure you have all the documents you need from whatever financial institutions you are dealing with. Otherwise if you file, then get some last-minute forms in the mail, you'll have to file an amended return. In some cases, it's better to wait until you're sure you have everything you need.
You can also help out your finances by learning about some last-minute retirement deductions, regardless of your age. You can decrease your tax bill by increasing your retirement savings. The money a person can contribute to a 401(k) or IRA is not included in your taxable income, so take advantage of it.
"If you're under 50, you can put up to $5,500 into a qualified retirement account. If you're over the age of 50, you have the ability to add up to $6,500 into an IRA. This is a scenario in which you're lowering your tax bill and you're saving for yourself," said Marx.
For those doing their own taxes, you can save money in a variety of ways. One simple way to use one of many programs and websites that make it possible. You can file for free on the FreeFile IRS website or at other sites as well, if your return qualifies.
An additional tip to make things happen smoothly is to file electronically; it's fast, easy and often free. The second idea is to use direct deposit in your bank account. It's safer because your refund check isn't sitting in your mailbox. Make sure to double-check for the correct routing and account numbers on your account, or someone else may get your money!
If you're not able to make the April 15 tax filing deadline, you can file for an extension. If that's the case, just be mindful if you do take that extension and you end up owing taxes, you might have to pay a penalty for what you owed. And despite the last-minute nature of filing your taxes in April, be careful and be correct! The most common error is putting down the wrong social security number.
"When it comes to errors, if you make these errors on your returns, it can flag you for an audit and nobody wants an audit," said Marx.
Those errors can be as simple as a wrong address or errors or omissions made when you roll over an IRA. The government needs to know where the money came from and where it's going. Filers need to get those basic things right or they could end up on the wrong side of the IRS.