Life can get complicated this time of the year -- between work and friends, spring break and spring cleaning and everything else, time goes by quickly. And for some of us, that means putting off filing taxes until the last minute. If this sounds like you, you are not alone. According to the IRS, 20 to 25 percent of Americans wait until the last two weeks before the deadline to file their taxes.
If tax time snuck up on you this year, here are a few tips:
The most important thing you can do if you are short on time is to make sure you are organized. Compile all of your documents -- W2, 1099, proof of charitable donations, everything -- in one place. That way you can be ready to get your taxes done in one or two sittings. Also, be willing to ask for help. If you have changes to your taxes this year that you aren't quite clear on or don't fully understand, pick up the phone. The IRS will clarify any questions you have.
Second, if you are cutting it really close, consider e-filing your taxes. These returns tend to be processed faster and have fewer mistakes.
If you still need time to work on your taxes, you can also apply for an automatic extension, which gives you until Oct. 15, 2014, to file your return. That doesn't mean you can also delay paying your taxes if you owe the IRS -- a fact that trips up many filers. An extension to file is not an extension to pay. If you owe taxes, you still must pay all or most of your taxes, or work with the IRS to establish a payment plan.
Finally, if you don't have the money to pay your taxes, don't panic. There are many options available, but you have to file your tax return. Then contact the IRS. They can help you determine what will work best for you.One important note -- filing for an extension doesn't make you an audit target. On the contrary, it could actually could help you. A correct, complete return filed on extension is always better than a sloppy, flawed return filed on April 15.