If you didn’t quite finish your tax return by April 18, filing for a tax extension was a smart move.
It’s easy to mail Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File, to the IRS and get another six months to put everything together.
It’s a little too easy, actually. And the extension of time is more time than most of us need.
The new deadline of October 15 seems so far away. Spring is here, and summer’s coming. Who wants to worry about it now? But – be cautious! October will be here before you know it.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your tax return on track.
Do as much as you can on your return
If you haven’t already, prepare as much of your return as you can now.
If you’re waiting for information from someone else, make an estimate.
Mark estimated amounts as such on your return, so you’ll be sure to go back to them later.
Keep track of your tax notes
As you prepare your return, you should keep a notebook or list on your computer of tax items you still need (use a tax return checklist), questions you have, and how you arrived at amounts and other information you enter on your return.
As you find the information you need, you can check it off the list.
Be sure to jot down how you arrived at items, such as the square footage of your office, how many days you spent at a vacation rental you own, or the amount you spent supporting a relative who does not live with you.
Keep these notes with your tax return.
If the IRS ever questions anything on your return, your notes can help you explain where you got your information.
Keep your tax documents organized
Before you file your tax documents, take a few minutes to arrange them so they’re easy to get back to.
Make notes on credit card statements, receipts, and so on as necessary.
Place check marks on tax documents to indicate the information you have already entered on your tax return.
A little attention now will save you from starting all over when you get back to working on your return.
Finish up as soon as possible
You’ll enjoy summer vacation more if you know you’ve already filed your tax return.
This is especially true if you’re worried about it, or if you aren’t really sure if you’ll owe more tax when you actually file.
When you’re finishing your return, don’t forget to enter any payments you made when filing your April 18 extension.
Don’t keep holding onto your return forever, hoping to find more deductions. Do the best you can, and then file.
If you find something important after you file, you can always file an amended tax return.
It won’t get easier to remember deductions and other information as times goes by.
Now that the April 18 crush is over, you might as well finish your return, so you can enjoy your summer without worrying about another tax deadline just around the corner.
Do you plan to finish up your return as soon as possible, or will you wait until the six-month extension is almost up?
Share in the comments below.