Easy Tips to File Your Tax Return Correctly

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Your tax refund is important, and if you file it correctly, your tax refund could change your life. It's very important for you to either file your tax return or request an extension by the due date.

Below, learn some tips on what you should look out for when filing your tax return to make sure you don't suffer penalties.

Make Sure to Pay Your Taxes After Filing

The penalty for failing to pay any taxes you might owe is 0.5 percent per month of the amount of your tax debt. But, the IRS also charges interest on the amount you owe.

If you simply can't pay by April 15, you have a couple of options:

Ask for an extension.

Do this by filling out Form 4868 with the IRS before the April 15 deadline. 

Pay as much as you can.

Be sure that you do this by April 15 to avoid maximum penalties.

Consider alternative ways of paying.

Try paying your taxes by credit card or setting up a payment schedule with the IRS to have the money automatically withdrawn from your checking account. 

Ask the IRS for an installment agreement.

You can set up an IRS payment plan if you don't think you can pay off your balance within a few months. An installment agreement is a monthly payment plan.

All of these options mean completing a rough draft of your tax return, even if you don't file it yet, so you have a rough idea of how much you owe.

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help With Your Taxes

Don't be afraid to enlist someone's help to prepare your tax return. If you want someone to discuss your tax return with the IRS on your behalf, you must fill out the "Third Party Designee" section on your tax return. Your tax preparer can then talk to the IRS about any questions or concerns they might have about your return.

Remember that third-party designations expire one year from the due date of your tax return, so if you want to use the same person's help next year, you'll have to fill out a new "Third Party Designee" form.

If the person who helped you with your return was a tax professional and you paid them, they must fill out the section of your return that asks for their identifying information. They must also sign and date your return and provide their Social Security number or Tax ID number.

Friends, relatives, or volunteers don't have to complete this section or provide this information as long as you didn't pay them anything to help you. 

Be Sure to Sign Everything on Your Tax Return 

Surprisingly enough, a lot of people forget this. For that reason, it is important to note heavily and to explain why it is so important. You're required to sign your tax return because when you do, it means you're effectively declaring under penalty of perjury the information in it is true and accurate.

You can't cross out the perjury statement just above the signature line. The IRS will consider your tax return "frivolous" if you do this, and it will even invoke a $500 civil penalty. On top of that, your tax return will not be accepted for processing.

On a similar note, you must put a date your tax return, and the date must be the day you actually signed it. On the other hand, telling the IRS your occupation and telephone number is optional.

Staple Your Tax Return Properly

Staple one copy of each of your W-2 statements to the front of your tax return. If you must file other schedules and statements with your return, sort them from lowest to highest using the attachment sequence number. You can find this in the upper right corner of the form.

Now, staple everything together and mail it to the correct IRS Service Center. The one you should use will depend on a variety of factors, such as your state of residence and whether you're also submitting a payment. The IRS offers a list of Service Centers and guidance on their website.

Prepare to File Your Taxes Early Next Year

If it turned out you owed the IRS money, consider increasing your income tax withholding to avoid it happening again. You can fill out a new Form W-4 and give it to your employer.

Keep in mind you can spare yourself a great deal of aggravation by simply purchasing tax preparation software next year. Most will walk you through your tax situation step by step, asking you a series of questions. And, they're not particularly expensive. Put your information into the program, and the software will e-file your return for you. It doesn't get any easier than that.