- Review your tax documents including last year's tax return. If you cannot get all your documents together, file an extension. KNOW THIS: it is an extension of time to file paperwork only NOT an extension of time to pay. If you owe taxes, pay them by April 18, or you will be subject to a penalty. While you are reviewing your documents, be sure to keep documentation of all the income and deductions on your tax returns.
- Determine how you are going to get your taxes done: self-preparation or tax pro. If you are doing it yourself, go slow and steady - don't panic over time and risk an error or omission and missed benefit. If you are looking for a tax pro, there are many tax preparers and tax companies ready to help right now. Most tax companies have extra hours, extra staff, and more than enough resources to help. Do not think you have waited too late to get help if you need it, it is what tax preparation companies do.
- Electronically file your taxes - it's faster, safer, and helps prevent mistakes. Also, send your refund to your bank account electronically if you are able, it is safer and faster than getting a check in the mail. If you owe taxes and cannot pay, file on time anyway and arrange for a payment plan with the IRS, failing to file only compounds the penalties and interest. You can file, NOT pay, and have fewer problems than just waiting until later to file.
There is still plenty of time to give your taxes the attention due them as your largest financial transaction of the year. Currently, three out of four taxpayers are enjoying tax refunds that are averaging about $2,800. File your taxes very soon and enjoy that big refund - unless you are one of the four, in which case, there is always next year - and it will be here sooner than we want.