We're finally here. It's the last weekend before our 2019 tax returns are due on Wednesday, July 15.
If you're one of the millions of filers who hasn't done your taxes yet, you've got three options:
- Get organized now, or
- Ask the IRS for more time.
Your choice depends upon exactly where you are right now in the filing process. (Of course, panic could be a viable option for each of us at any time during tax season, especially if we discover we owe Uncle Sam. But that's another story.)
Regardless of where you are tax-wise right now, here are some tips to help keep this last weekend of the regular, albeit unusual, 2020 tax season weekend from turning into a lost weekend.
Getting started: If you're just getting started, depending on your tax circumstances you could have a lot or little left to do over the next few days.
A good first step is to take a look at the return itself. It's been streamlined for this filing season, going to just Form 1040 and three schedules.
Then check out this checklist to make sure you have all the documents you need to fill out the form. It covers both those documents you've kept, as well as all the tax statements that were snail- or e-mailed to you.
Of course, if you're planning to tackle your taxes yourself, you're probably relying tax software. If you haven't purchased a program yet, note that Free File is still available. You're eligible to use this no-cost tax prep and free electronic filing option if your adjusted gross income (AGI) last year was $69,000 or less, whatever your filing status.
Making the most of tax breaks: Regardless of how you do your taxes, you'll want to make sure you don't short yourself when it comes to tax savings.
Lots of filers miss these 10 often overlooked tax break. There are even more tax saving possibilities in the above-the-line deductions (yes, I'm still calling them that) which are now found on Schedule 1.
These 22 tax breaks can be claims by qualifying filers regardless of whether they claim the standard deduction or itemize.
Aim for error-free: Naturally, you want to make sure your tax return is correct. There are few things as simultaneously terrifying and irritating as getting an Internal Revenue Service notice telling you that the tax collector has found an error. So don't make any!
Here are 10 common tax filing mistakes that you can avoid by taking a little extra care when finishing up your Form 1040.
Long-time readers of the ol' blog have already figured out that the links in this post have been culled from the previously posted Filing Season Tax Tips. These tax tidbits are featured in the upper corner of the page. After their day in the tax blog sun, they then go into their own special monthly collections.
You also might want to check out a new feature this filing season, Tax Form Tuesday. It's a collection of posts that take a closer look at some of the most commonly used IRS forms.
Get three more months: Of course, if you're feeling overwhelmed right about now or alter this weekend or next week as July 15 looms, then don't worry about your return.
Instead, send the IRS Form 4868. This automatic extension requires will give you until Oct. 15 to complete your 1040 and get it to Uncle Sam.
Remember though, you must pay any due tax with your extension. Any amount you don't pay will result in added penalties and interest charges.
If you can't come up with the cash right now, pay as much as you can and then look into other payment options, such as an installment tax payment agreement.
Tax timeout suggestion: Whether you'll be working on your taxes this weekend, deciding to put them off until October or have already completed them (jealous!), I hope you get to enjoy some of Saturday and Sunday. What with the coronavirus quarantines now being at least partially reinstituted in some places (like here in Texas), stay-at-home weekdays and weekends seem to run together.
If you're looking for something different to watch and, like me, are a fan of classic movies, then you probably got the lost weekend reference at the beginning of and headline for this post. For folks new to great old black-and-white movies, here's the scoop.
"The Lost Weekend" is a 1945 film gem directed by the renowned Billy Wilder. It tackled the still-controversial topic of alcoholism and how it wrecks not only the lives of drinkers, but those who love them.
Ray Milland is stellar as Don Birnam, who returns from World War II haunted by the horrors he saw. To mask them and bolster his shaky self-confidence, he turns to the proverbial bottom of a liquor bottle.
Milland took home the Academy Award for Best Lead Actor. Wilder also won for Best Director and the movie took additional Oscars for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. Jane Wyman, whose performance as Birman's girlfriend somehow was ignored by Hollywood awards, also was spectacular, transcending what was a typical woman's role of the 1940s era.
Although the movie debuted 75 years ago, addiction is still a problem and this film has aged really well. If you can find it, it's well worth it's 99-minute running time.
I know that many succumbing to difficult circumstances maybe isn't the best metaphor as we head into the final days of an especially trying tax season. Then again, it also could remind us — no spoilers here! — that we all at some point go through tough and dark times.
Here's hoping this last tax weekend isn't one of them!
|Coronavirus Caveat & More Information
In 2020, we're all dealing with extraordinary circumstances,
both in our daily lives and when it comes to our taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its transmission
and protect ourselves and our families means that,
for the most part, we're focusing on just getting through these trying days.
But life as we knew it before the coronavirus will return,
along with our mundane tax matters.
Here's hoping that happens soon!
In the meantime, you can find more on the virus and its effects on our taxes
by clicking Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Taxes.