No April Fools' Day joke here. It's April, the month of reckoning for millions of taxpayers.
Do you see that light at the end of the tunnel? You've got just two weeks to figure out whether it's the daylight of a wonderful April 15 by which you've finished your tax filing duties or a tax train barreling straight for you.
If it's daylight, congratulations. Just make sure you do a thorough once-over before you send in your 1040. A silly mistake could cost you tax money.
And if it's the train, don't panic. Getting in a hurry will make you susceptible to tax-time errors, too. So slow down. You've got time.
Tax software has made it harder for filers to overlook major return requirements, but it's still your personal responsibility to make sure your tax data is correct. Did you pick the proper filing status? Claim all your dependents? Report all your income, even those amounts for which you have no 1099? Include all your investment earnings and losses? Count your noncash charitable contributions?
Take more time: Whoa! You say you just realized you've got more tax work to do than you thought? Again, take a breath.
If it's become abundantly clear that you just can't finish your tax paper work, that's fine. The Internal Revenue Service will give you six extra months to finish filling out your return as long as you send in Form 4868 by April 15.
Remember, though, that you'll also need to send in any tax you owe, or a good estimate of your bill, or you'll face nonpayment penalty and interest charges.
More than just 1040s: Also note that April 15 is the deadline for some other tax tasks.Do you make estimated estimated tax payments? Then your first-quarter 1040-ES voucher for 2013 is due today.
Want to add to your IRA? You have until April 15 to contribute to either a traditional IRA or a Roth and have it count toward your 2012 tax year.
If you have a health savings account (HSA), you have until April 15 to contribute and maximize your 2012 deductions to this medical insurance plan.
Did you neglect to file your 2009 tax return back in 2010? If so and you were due a refund, you must get that old form into the IRS by this year's filing deadline or forever forfeit that money.
And don't forget your state taxes. Most states that levy income taxes follow the federal filing calendar, meaning a tax return and any tax due be sent in by April 15.You can find more in the April Tax Moves, including some post-filing tips, listed over in the ol' blog's right column. Just scroll down a bit and you'll find the scoop under the digital clock counting down to tax day.
You also might find these items of interest:
- The procrastinating taxpayer's best friend, Form 4868
- Taxes? There are apps for that
- Tax filing preparation checklist