4/15/2014 - Tax filing tips for procrastinators
The deadline has officially arrived - Tax Day. Since Feb.1, tax season has been underway, but Americans have had until today to file their income earnings to the federal government without incurring a penalty if an extension hasn't been requested.
In an effort to help workers with their tax returns, and to ensure that they earn their maximum refund, the American Payroll Association has put together a list of tips.
Perhaps the most important aspect of all is verifying that all the forms that should have been sent are received, APA advised. Ideally, this should have been done right around Jan. 31, the time when employers were required to have provided their staff with a W-2 form as well as a wage and tax statement. If either of these have been lost, be sure to get in touch with the company's human resources department to ask for a reissued statement.
A document that may get lost in the shuffle is a 1099-MISC. Anyone who earned more than $600 from a company to do freelance or contract work should have received this, APA noted, in lieu of a W-2 form.
Make sure the numbers match
Something else to be mindful of is the payment total as listed on the W-2 and one's pay stub for 2013, which should have a final number for how much income was earned last year. If the numbers don't match or there is some other discrepancy, the company's payroll department should be advised of this as soon as possible.
One of the good things about putting together income tax returns is that filers can get tax credits, which may increase their refund. APA noted that depending on qualifications, hundreds if not thousands of dollars may be gained through programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was officially enacted in 1975 and is available to people who have low to moderate earnings.
The APA had a few other suggestions to be aware of when filing income tax returns.
Tax preparatory services and financial advisors' aim is to help consumers avoid frustration by getting through the tax filing process as seamlessly as possible. Similarly, while not for tax filing purposes, the Insurance Information Institute also provides recommendations for another type of filing that many auto or homeowners may have to do at least once in their lifetime.