MARQUETTE With the national tax filing deadline approaching, the Internal Revenue Service has suggested some tips for making your tax filing experience less stressful.
For starters, the IRS recommends not procrastinating, nor panicking. For starters, the tax filing deadline this year is later than usual. Rather than April 15, the deadline is April 18 because of the observed federal holiday of Emancipation Day.
For taxpayers nationwide, when the April 16 holiday falls on a Saturday, April 15 is the observed holiday date and the deadline for filing all tax forms and payments required to be filed or completed on or before April 15 is moved to the following Monday.
But back to not procrastinating, IRS agents say not to put your taxes off until the very last minute. Rushing to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error.
Another suggested tip is to visit the IRS website ( HYPERLINK "www.irs.gov" www.irs.gov). Last year, more than 304 million visits were made to the website. The site has a great deal of information on answers to tax questions and the latest IRS news.
Agents also suggest the option of using the agency's "free file" system available exclusively at the IRS website at: HYPERLINK "www.irs.gov/freefile" www.irs.gov/freefile The system employs brand name tax software and online forms to complete your taxes.
"Everyone can find an option to prepare their tax return and e-file it for free," according to agents. "If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more, or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fill-able Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
The IRS suggests trying the agency's e-file system.
"After 21 years, IRS e-file has become the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return," agents said. "Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers, 99 million people, used IRS e-file."
Starting this year, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. The IRS said its e-file is approaching 1 billion returns processed safely and securely.
If you owe taxes, when using e-file, you have payment options to file immediately and pay later (by the tax deadline). Best of all, combine e-file with direct deposit and you can get your refund in as few as 10 days.
Now back to not panicking. Agents say if you cannot pay the full amount of taxes you owe by the April 18 deadline, you should still file your return by the deadline and pay as much as you can to avoid penalties and interest.
You should also contact the IRS to discuss your payment options at 1-800-829-1040. The agency may be able to provide some relief such as an installment agreement. More than 75 percent of taxpayers eligible for an Installment Agreement can apply using the Web-based Online Payment Agreement application at the agency's website. To learn more, visit the Online Payment Agreement section of the home page.
Finally, agents say that if you miss the April 18 deadline, you can get an automatic six-month extension of time to file through Oct. 17. However, this extension of time to file does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. If you have not paid at least 90 percent of the total tax due by the April deadline you may also be subject to an Estimated Tax Penalty.
To obtain an extension, just file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. The easiest way to file a Form 4868 is through Free File at the website or you can call 1-800-829-3676 and have a paper form mailed to you.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His e-mail address is email@example.com.