It’s almost Tax Day, but if you’re one of the 31% of taxpayers who reportedly file taxes at the last minute, you still have a little time to complete your federal income tax return. Also, survey data (opens in new tab) show that most taxpayers don’t know when the last day to file taxes is for 2023. (It’s tomorrow: April 18). So. if you fall into either of these groups (or both), here are a few tips for filing your taxes at the last minute.
Tax Tip #1: Don’t Miss the Tax Deadline on Tuesday, April 18
The tax deadline is only a day away for most people. (Some taxpayers in disaster areas have been granted an extension, but most taxpayers must file their 2022 tax returns by midnight on April 18, 2023). If you don’t file on time, you could face a failure-to-file penalty. That penalty amount begins at 5% of your tax bill but can increase to $425 (if you still haven’t filed your return within 60 days after the tax deadline). So, you should file before April 18, even if you’re worried about what you owe. Waiting to file your return could cost you a lot more than if you file without making a full payment.
Tax Tip #2: Easily File Taxes or File Taxes Without Paying
E-filing is the fastest way to get your tax return to the IRS. Many taxpayers can e-file for free. IRS Free File (opens in new tab) allows you to use certain tax preparation software at no cost if your adjusted gross income (AGI) wasn’t more than $73,000 for 2022. Some people can also file their state tax returns at no cost. You can use the IRS Free File online look-up tool (opens in new tab) to find free federal tax preparation software and determine which providers offer free state filing.
Also, if your AGI was more than $73,000 in 2022 you can still use IRS fillable forms (opens in new tab) at no charge. You can file online when using these forms. However, with IRS fillable forms, you won’t find guided step-by-step instructions like you would with most tax preparation software. (State tax filing is unavailable with fillable forms).
Tax Tip #3: Consider a Tax Extension
If you aren’t quite ready to file taxes yet, you can still avoid a failure-to-file penalty but only if you request a tax extension before the April 18 tax deadline. The IRS offers three ways to file for a tax extension.
- E-file Form 4868 (opens in new tab) (available with IRS Free File). This is the most common way that people request a tax extension.
- Make a full or partial electronic payment of your estimated tax due and note that the payment is for a tax extension.
- Mail Form 4868, which is a tax extension form, to the IRS.
A tax extension gives you until October 16, 2023 to file your return, but this does not mean you can wait that long to pay your taxes. You must still pay your tax bill by the April 18 deadline unless you have been granted an automatic payment extension by the IRS. You do not need to file an extension if you expect a refund or have no tax liability.
Tax Tip #4: Seek Help From a Tax Professional
Consider enlisting help from a professional tax preparer. This is a good option when you don’t know how to handle your tax situation and when you want to ensure you pay as little tax (or receive the biggest refund, if you’re due one) as possible. Professionals can also provide valuable tax tips and answer any last-minute tax filing questions you might have.
Since so many taxpayers wait until April to file, you might discover that professionals in your area can’t fit you in before the April 18 tax deadline. You can broaden your search to include more than just certified public accountants (CPAs).
For example, there are other qualified professionals who can help you prepare your tax return this close to the deadline, like enrolled agents (licensed by the IRS) and tax attorneys. Some tax software programs might also offer assistance from tax experts.
Tax Tip #5: Maximize Tax Deductions
Try not to rush so much that you forget to maximize tax deductions. You can potentially keep or put more money in your pocket by ensuring you take advantage of every tax deduction and tax credit that you qualify for. The best way to do this is to enlist the help of one of the professionals listed above. But you can also claim tax deductions and credits if you do your own taxes. However, keep in mind that many taxpayers miss out on money-saving tax deductions and credits because they don’t know they exist.
You might be able to lower your tax bill even further by making contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA) or traditional IRA if you haven’t already reached the maximum limits. You typically have until the tax deadline on April 18 (possibly later if you have a disaster-related tax deadline extension) to make contributions to your 2022 IRA or HSA accounts and claim the deduction on your 2022 tax return. That’s good news for the millions of last-minute tax filers.