No matter how early you began to prepare your tax return, there are still last-minute items to consider. Whether you’re fine-tuning your tax return or you’re just now sitting down to the tax forms (hopefully not), it’s a smart idea to create and review a last minute tax prep checklist.
Think of it like you were packing for a long trip overseas. No matter how many times you’ve double checked all of your bags, it’s a good idea to triple check once more before you get on the plane.
We’ve compiled a list of necessary items to add to your checklist in a effort to safeguard you against any forgotten or mismanaged information. Even if you use tax preparation software like Turbo Tax to prepare your taxes, checking these last-minute items won’t do anything but help.
Everyone knows their social security number by heart . . .right? Right. We’ll maybe. It’s not going to hurt to check your social security number for accuracy one more time. Make sure it’s correct and in the right place. The IRS reports this (incorrect or missing SSNs) as one of the most common filing mistakes.
All Necessary Paperwork
If you decide to use tax prep software, all you need to do is enter the correct amounts from your W-2s and 1099s, clip them to the printout, and file copies in a secure location. If, however, you choose to go the paper tax route, make sure to attach all of the necessary forms to your tax form before you mail it in.
Yes there are many tax credits and deductions to choose from. Not everyone will itemize, but you should still double check the credits you are claiming and possible deductions that apply to you. Remember, Turbo Tax will guide you through the process of itemizing your deductions and then tell you if it is better for you to take the standard deduction or itemize.
You Can’t Blame the Post Office
This advice may seem less to do with tax prep and more to do with time management. But when the outcome directly effects your tax status with the IRS, everything is related to taxes.
If you’re mailing your tax return, check the hours of operation at your local post office. The IRS won’t care if you tell them the post office closed early. I hate telling people to check the hours of operation, because no one should wait until the absolute last minute to mail their return. But plenty of people do . . . so check your post office and make sure you get there in time.
The last day to file taxes in 2012 is April 17th. We get a couple of extra days because of the weekend and Emancipation Day.
Plan for Next Year
This bit of advice might save you time, money, and frustration . . . next year. As you’re preparing and filing taxes this year, make a list of the hurdles, frustrations, and bumps in the road you may be experiencing. If you were too unorganized this year, plan ahead to get everything lined up next year. If you’re refund is too big or if you owe too much, get with your employer to make the necessary adjustments so you’re having the IRS take out the proper amount of taxes from your current paycheck.