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Procrastinators get short tax deadline break

By Staff | Apr 13, 2016

By TIFFANY REPECKI

trepecki@breezenewspapers.com

Taxpayers have just over one week to file their 2015 tax returns and have them in on time.

This year, the filing deadline is April 18. Michael Dobzinski, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, explained that it is because April 15 is a legal holiday, which pushes back the deadline.

“So people do get a couple extra days,” he said.

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.

An estimated 85 percent or more of taxpayers now file electronically. It helps reduce errors as the software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.

“They should make sure they have all their W-2s and other information,” Dobzinski said.

If taxpayers purchased health insurance last year through the marketplace, either the state or federal system, then they should have received a 1095-A form, which they will need to file their taxes.

“Make sure you make a copy of the return before you send it,” he said.

For those expecting a refund, Dobzinski suggested that they opt for direct deposit.

“That can cut a week off the time it takes for your to get your refund,” he said.

“Nine out of 10 people will get their refund in 21 days,” Dobzinski added.

It is also a safer method than receiving a paper check in the mail.

“Every year, we get reports of people having lost or stolen refund checks when they go to the mailbox,” he said. “If you’re choosing direct deposit, make sure the checking and routing numbers are correct.”

Refunds can be deposited into a single account or allocated among a couple accounts.

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.

“Make sure you attach your W-2s, and make sure you sign the return,” Dobzinski said.

Joint filers should make sure both parties sign.

“All these steps, you bypass them when you do it electronically,” he said.

Taxpayers who opt for a check in the mail can typically expect it in six to eight weeks.

Those unable to file by the deadline can file for an extension that gives them until mid-October.

“It’s an extension of time to file, not to pay,” Dobzinski said.

Taxpayers who file late without requesting the extension will be charged a late filing penalty of 5 percent per month. Filers who also owe money will additionally be charged a late payment penalty.

“You don’t want to incur any late penalties,” he said.

For taxpayers who owe the IRS money, there is IRS Direct Pay and several other e-payment options. Checks, money orders, credit and debit cards are accepted, and payment agreements are available.

“There are a number of payment options if you don’t have the funds,” Dobzinski said.

As of last week, the IRS had received more than 90 million tax returns.

“We expect, nationwide, about 150 million returns,” he said.

To track a refund, visit the IRS website. A mobile app is also available.

Taxpayers needing last-minute help with filing a return can contact the Internal Revenue Service at (800) 829-1040. The toll-free telephone lines will be open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, stop by a local IRS office or visit online at: www.irs.gov.

There is an IRS office at 4210 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers. Unless dropping off a return or picking up forms, the office is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact (844) 545-5640.