The April 18 tax deadline is fast approaching, but if you haven't filed yet, there's no need to panic. While more than half of taxpayers have already filed their returns, each year about 20 percent wait until the last couple weeks to file.
If you're one of the many taxpayers who hasn't yet filed this year's tax return, here are 10 tips to help you meet the deadline, avoid mistakes and boost your refund.
Organize your documents. Before sitting down to prepare your taxes, organize your tax forms by category. Put anything related to income (W-2s, 1099s) together and then gather up receipts for expenses (mortgage interest 1098, property taxes, DMV documents, charitable contribution receipts, business expenses, just to name a few). This way you will have everything ready and won't leave anything out.
Set a deadline. Taxes are due April 18, but you can do yourself a huge favor by picking an earlier deadline. Setting an earlier deadline will give you a buffer so you don't have to hurry through the paperwork and stress over missing a tax deduction or tax credit. Also, you will miss the last minute tax day rush, and could receive your refund faster.
Go online and file from anywhere. Filing your taxes is more convenient than ever with online and mobile options available. The benefits of filing online are numerous, and the biggest benefit of e-filing is that you receive confirmation that the IRS has received your return. If you're in a real crunch, you can file from your phone using the TurboTax Mobile App to conveniently and effortlessly prepare and e-file your taxes. You can jump start your taxes by taking a photo of your W-2 from your phone or tablet and watch your information transfer to the correct forms eliminating data entry and making your tax prep effortless. You can also file anytime, anywhere and move across devices. No waiting in line necessary.
E-file with direct deposit. E-filing with direct deposit is faster, easier and more secure than filing a paper return and mailing it to the IRS. The IRS expects to issue nine out of 10 federal tax refunds in 21 days or less. Direct deposit also eliminates the chance of a lost, stolen or undeliverable refund.
Maximize your deductions. Even if you wait until the last minute to file, don't forget about the money you shelled out for expenses in 2015. The IRS reports that the majority of taxpayers -- about 75 percent -- take the standard deduction, but including a few additional receipts may push you over the standard deduction amount and lower your tax liability. Taxpayers often forget about deductions like charitable contributions, state tax liability paid, and job search expenses.
Double check for credits. In addition to deductions, be sure to double check for tax credits you may be eligible for as well, including the Child Care Credit worth up to $1,000 and Earned Income Tax Credit worth up to $6,242 if you have three or more kids. Tax credits reduce your tax bill dollar for dollar and allow you to keep more of your hard-earned money.
File even if you owe. Remember, filing a tax extension only extends the time you have to file your taxes, not the time you have to pay anything you owe. Even if you owe money to the IRS, you can ask for an installment agreement when you file, which may allow you to pay your tax debt over six years.
No need to wait for Form 1095-B or 1095-C. If you have employer-provided health insurance, private health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, you may have received Form 1095-B or C to prove you have health insurance. However, even if you did not receive Form 1095-B or C, there's no need to wait to file because you do not need these forms to file. They are for information only -- so go ahead and file!
Make a last-minute tax move. Most money-saving tax moves need to be made by December 31 of the tax year, but there is one thing you can still to help lower your tax bill or increase your refund. You can still contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you're over 50) to your traditional IRA up until the tax deadline on April 18 and still get a deduction for your contribution. Just make sure you let the administrator know that your contribution is for 2015 and not 2016.
Make Filing Fun: Tax season may cause anxiety, but there are ways to make filing your taxes fun. Hosting a tax party to file with your friends is a great excuse to get together with friends and enjoy yourselves while you're filing your taxes. And don't forget that listening to upbeat music will keep you motivated through the filing process -- plus you'll have something to dance to when you celebrate having #TaxesDone.