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Tax crunch time is here: what to do before Tax Day

Tax Document
Posted at 10:55 AM, Apr 09, 2024

We are counting down the final week to Tax Day: April 15.

But whether you file by Tax Day, or request an extension, the key is filing on time to avoid penalties and other costly mistakes.

It's crunch time for Gina Pinto and her employees at her Liberty Tax office.

"You will be surprised how many people wait," she said. "Every year, we see people walk in the door at 11 p.m., April 15."

But waiting until the last minute creates problems, she says, because many taxpayers forget important forms.

"A lot of people don't bring all the documentation they need," she said, and then she has to send them back home again.

It can be a stressful, frustrating process.

Last-minute mistakes to avoid

Mark Steber withJackson Hewitt agrees, saying it's important not to miss the deadline, but also saying you don’t want to lose sight of the need for accuracy.

For instance, he says, if you’re still waiting for a W-2 or 1099, don’t assume it’s coming.

"Just because you didn't get, it doesn't mean you can leave it off your tax return," he said, because there is a very good chance the IRS did get that form, and is aware of that income.

Steber says you should track down any missing forms by reaching out to your employer or other issuer.

Still can't find it? You will want to request an extension.

But he says another common mistake is thinking an extension gives you more time to pay.

It doesn't.

"If you're going to owe taxes, you have to have those paid in on time by tax day, April 15, or run the risk of penalties and interest," he said.

And if you’re anticipating a refund, there’s really no reason to delay.

For last-minute tax help in person, however, Steber says watch out for fake tax preparers you may find advertising on social media.

Warning signs of a shady tax preparer, he says, are that they:

  • Guarantee a large refund.
  • Won’t tell you the refund amount.
  • Refuse to sign your tax return.

Your best bet right now: stick with a major name tax service, whether online or in person.
Gina Pinto says whether you are doing it yourself or visiting an office like her Liberty Tax office, "don't wait, don't wait."

That's because mistakes happen when you rush.

That way you don't waste your money.

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