Washington D.C.’s Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15th is giving federal employees a long weekend and taxpayers an extra three days to file their tax returns. The 2016 tax filing deadline is Monday, April 18th, and even with the extra weekend, that date is fast approaching. Here’s what you need to know and have ready to get your information submitted before the 18th.
The hardest part of filing your taxes is gathering all of the needed documents. Remember that copies of any tax forms sent to you are also sent to the IRS, and the IRS computers check the forms they receive against your return. You'll want to make sure everything matches to avoid a possible audit or penalties.
Make sure you have the following:
W2s from every salaried or hourly job you held for any length of time during 2015
1099s from any independent contractor work or self-employment during 2015 where you earned at least $600 (lower amounts must still be reported even if a 1099 isn't issued)
1099s from any bank, credit union, or investment broker where you earned interest or dividends or sold investments
1095 from your health insurance provider to avoid the Affordable Healthcare Act's shared responsibility payment and to receive the health insurance subsidy if you qualified
1098 showing any mortgage interest you paid
Receipts from charitable contributions, business expenses, job-related moving costs, and any other deductions you want to itemize
Even if you're going to have your taxes prepared by someone else, you should always have an idea of what tax breaks you might be eligible for. Even if you use a tax preparation service in West Michigan, they won't know everything about your life, and they might not think to ask about a specific credit or deduction unless you mention it. Some of the most common deductions and credits include:
Earned income credit
Education credits and student loan interest deductions
Child and dependent care credit
Saver's credit for retirement contributions
Credits for energy efficient vehicles or appliances
Deductions for expenses related to your job or own business
If you had any other major expenses in 2015, ask your West Michigan tax preparer if any other credits or deductions might be available.
You can also learn more at the IRS's Credits and Deductions page. While the IRS may get a bad reputation, their website is very easy to use, and the search bar helps you quickly find the information you need.
If you just don't have time to file your taxes or need to spend more time looking into a credit or deduction, you can request an automatic six-month extension by filling out Form 4868. The extension waives the failure to file penalty as long as you file by the extended deadline, but interest and late payment fees on any taxes due still accrue from April 18th. If you expect to owe taxes, you should also make an estimated tax payment by April 18th for the largest amount you expect to possibly owe. If you end up owing less or were already expecting a refund, you'll receive your refund when you file your return.
While you're able to file your own taxes, many people don't like spending the time to file taxes or worry that they might risk a credit or deduction worth thousands of dollars. If you need help filing your taxes, BBB Serving Western Michigan hosts a list of local, Accredited tax preparers along with their consumer reviews to help you make the best decision this year.