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Tax time

By Staff | Apr 14, 2015

Today is the last day taxpayers can file their 2014 tax returns and have them in on time.

As last-minute filers submit their returns electronically or by mail, the Internal Revenue Service is offering up a few tips to help them avoid common errors that could delay their refunds or cause other problems. First, the IRS encourages taxpayers to file electronically, through e-file or IRS Free File.

“We certainly continue to recommend electronic filing,” IRS spokesman Michael Dobzinski said.

Nearly 85 percent of taxpayers now file electronically. It helps reduce tax return errors as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.

Those using the traditional method must have returns postmarked by midnight.

He noted that officials also recommend using direct deposit to receive a refund check.

Refunds can be deposited into a single account at a bank or other financial institution or allocated among as many as two or three accounts. Ensure the routing and account numbers used are accurate.

Filers should also check for any tax benefits that they may qualify for, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Savers Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and other education tax benefits.

“Make sure you don’t overlook any deductions or credits,” Dobzinski said.

New this year, taxpayers are required to report their 2014 health care coverage to the IRS.

“For more people, it’s just checking a box,” he said.

An estimated one-quarter of those filing taxes will take a different route, such as claiming an exemption or claiming a Premium Tax Credit for those who purchased health insurance.

“Some may have to make what’s call an Individual Shared Responsibility payment,” Dobzinski said.

For details on how the Affordable Care Act affects the 2014 return, visit online: IRS.gov/aca.

Today is the last day to contribute to a Roth or traditional individual retirement arrangement, or IRA.

“So you can still do that to reduce your tax bill,” he said.

For filers submitting their return by mail, make sure to sign all the required forms, ensure you are utilizing the correct tax table and the math is correct, and double check social security numbers.

“Keep a copy of your return. Make sure you get a copy of the return,” Dobzinski said.

Those unable to file their taxes in time can file for an extension – Form 4868.

“That will get you an extra six months, until Oct. 15,” he said.

For taxpayers who owe the IRS money, there is IRS Direct Pay and several other e-payment options. Checks and money orders are also accepted; make them payable to the “United States Treasury,” along with a Form 1040-V payment voucher. Officials recommend filing returns on time, despite payment.

“File the return because that will reduce any late payment or filing penalties,” Dobzinski said.

For the second year in a row, if a person is from Florida and files from Florida they can request a personal identification number. The ID number must be requested before completing a return.

“So we can identify it as your return and not somebody else’s,” he said.

For more information, stop by a local IRS office or visit the website online: IRS.gov.

An IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center is located at 4210 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is (239) 938-7601.