[-- Read Time: 3 mins --]

Listen up procrastinators, you’ve avoided your taxes for long enough. Waiting until the last-minute to file only adds more stress to a task many people already find confusing. But don’t worry, we have some tips that can make the process as painless as possible.

Being organized makes the process easier

Doing your taxes goes a lot smoother when you have everything you need at your fingertips.  Before you sit down to prepare your return, track down all your tax documents.  If you have a simple return, chances are you’ll just need your W-2, Social Security Number and banking information for your refund.  For those with a more complex tax situation, we suggest using our Tax Prep Checklist to get organized. 

E-filing can save you time and money

Filing electronically is the fastest and most reliable way to get your return to the IRS.  The best part is many tax software programs allow you to file for free if you meet their qualifications.  For instance, you can file a simple return for FREE at ezTaxReturn.com.  No matter which tax software you use always take an extra moment to double check your entries.  Although the program can detect certain errors, they don’t know whether the information you’re providing is actually correct.  Therefore, you’ll need to enter the figures exactly as it appears on your documents to get accurate results.

Import last year’s data to speed up the process

If you plan to use the same tax program you did last year, you can save time by using prior-year import.  With the click of a button, last year’s information will be automatically transferred into this year’s return.  You’ll just need to provide updated numbers.

Request an extension if you need more time to file

Not everyone is able to get their taxes done by the deadline and that’s alright.  The IRS will grant you more time to file but you need to request an extension no later than April 15th.  Doing so will give you an additional six months or until October 15th to file without penalty.  To request an extension, you’ll need to complete and submit Form 4868 to the IRS. 

You’re still expected to pay by Tax Day

Don’t be fooled, requesting a tax extension doesn’t give you more time to pay your balance if you owe the IRS.  They still expect their money by Tax Day.  Any unpaid taxes will begin accruing penalties and interest on April 16th.  Even if you can’t afford to pay the full amount, at least put something towards the bill to minimize the blow.

Miss the tax deadline and penalties may follow

Whether you can afford to pay your tax bill or not you still need to file on time.  It only takes 30 minutes when you use ezTaxReturn.com.  If you owe the IRS and miss the tax deadline you will be penalized for each month your return is late.  The penalty for failing to file on time is 5 percent of your unpaid taxes.  If your return is more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is $435 or 100 percent of the tax owed, whichever is smaller. The penalty for not paying your full balance by the deadline is 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes.  In both cases the penalties can climb up to a maximum of 25 percent.

The good news is if you’re owed a refund and don’t file by the deadline you won’t be penalized.  The IRS just won’t issue your refund until you file your return.

Consider all your payment options

Normally when people owe the IRS they choose to pay via check, direct debit or credit card.  However, you also have the option of applying for a payment plan and paying your balance off over time.  If you filed your return and owe less than $50,000 in tax, penalties and interest, you may qualify for an installment agreement.  The IRS also offers a short-term payment plan for those who owe less than $100,000 in tax, penalties and interest.  You can apply on the IRS website or through your tax software provider.  Fees may apply.