9 Last-Minute Tax Tips

NEW YORK (MoneyTalksNews) —The last day to file your taxes is April 15. If you waited until the home stretch, you’re not alone: The IRS told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal 20% to 25% of Americans wait until the last two weeks to file their return.

That’s not hard to imagine. After all, if you’re getting a refund, you file as soon as you get a W-2. If you owe, you wait till the last minute: No point paying a bill before it’s due.

Then, of course, there are also those of us who procrastinate.

Whatever your situation, if you haven’t yet filed, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has some last-minute tax advice in the video below.

If it’s time for you to get started, here’s some last-minute advice that might help.

1. Contribute to an IRA

One of the few ways you can still lower your 2012 tax bill is contributing to a tax-deductible IRA. You have until April 15 to do it. Contributing has big benefits – a tax deduction, tax-deferred compounding, and the main benefit: survival when you’re retired. The IRS says the max you can contribute for 2012 is $5,000 ($6,000 if you’re 50 or older).

2. Get organized

I once spent three days on the floor of my living room, sorting through a box of crumpled Home Depot receipts because I didn’t organize before I started my taxes. Don’t make my mistake. Get what you need before you sit down, like:

  • W-2's from your employer
  • 1099-MISC if you’re self-employed
  • 1099-SSA for Social Security benefits
  • 1099-INT and 1099-DIV forms
  • 1099-G for state unemployment comp or state tax refunds
  • 1098-T for paid college tuition
  • Summary of paid real estate taxes
  • Summary of paid health care costs
  • Summary of child care expenses
  • Receipts to back up potential deductions

3. Decide if you’ll get help

Before you spend hours struggling with tax forms, decide if you want to DIY or get help. If you made $51,000 or less last year, you can get free tax help from the IRS VITA program. If you’re 60 or older, you might find free help through the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program. If you don’t qualify for either, you can pick up cheap or free software by checking out vendors on the IRS Free File website.