Tax Preparation, Part 1

It’s time to file your income tax returns!

For some people, the thought of sitting down with all that paperwork and figures is just too much to bear.
But not to worry—recently, I sat down with Kathy Travis, a Tax and Financial Professional in Greenvale. She had a lot of advice for people filing their own tax returns, and even for those looking to work with a tax professional.
Travis says for most people, the easiest way to file is to utilize e-filing software–or software that allows your tax returns to be filed online. Not only does she say that filing online is much faster than a paper return, but for those eligible for a refund will get their money much faster–it’s possible to get your federal return in only 10 days, as opposed to 4-6 weeks when mailing away a return. In addition, the software actually goes through and makes sure all the necessary form lines are filled out, so the processing of your return doesn’t get delayed because of missing information. The software can also help you figure out deductions.
And even if you’re worried about the cost of using e-filing software–the IRS has teamed up with several different e-filing software companies to offer FreeFile—for those who are eligible. The umbrella rule is that most qualify if their Adjusted Gross Income (or AGI) is less than $58,000–but different companies have different policies. In order to see if you qualify, go to: http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=118986,00.html?portlet=8.
Even if you don’t qualify to use the FreeFile software, everyone is eligible to e-file for free using the FreeFile Fillable Forms–which are great for people who are confident in their ability to figure out their own deductions and figures. You can find these forms here: https://www.freefilefillableforms.org/
Another fun fact: The IRS has launched a new free smartphone app called
IRS2Go–once you e-file, you can use the app to check your refund status. The app also has information on tax law changes as well as tax tips, which you can even get e-mailed to you by signing up to subscribe. IRS2Go is available for people with iPhones or Android devices, and more information can be found here: http://www.irs.gov/efile/article/0,,id=234412,00.html
This year’s deadline to file your taxes has been delayed until Monday, April 18th because of the April 15th Emancipation Day Observation. You still have plenty of time to file–but don’t wait until the last minute! If for whatever reason you have to file an extension, Travis says that “an extention is only an extension of time to file a return, not to an extension of time to pay the tax.” In other words, if you will owe money, you still have to make a payment or pay the balance when you file the extension on what you’re estimating you’ll owe by April 18th. If you don’t, or if your estimations are off and you’ll actually owe more than what you guessed, you can be charged for late payments. So Travis says that even though there’s no penalty fees to file the extension itself, it’s best to make sure you file on time to avoid any possible extra charges later.
And whatever you do—make sure when you sit down with your tax professional—ask questions and be prepared.
For more tips, watch LI News Tonight on Channel 18 at 7:00 pm to catch the second part of the Tax Preparation series.
–Tara Evans
****Helpful links:****
NYS Dept of Tax and Financehttp://www.tax.ny.gov/
Contact your local IRS office http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html
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