April 15th is quickly approaching. Do you have your taxes done? Nearly half of all tax returns are filed after April 1st. If you are one of the last-minute filers, here are five tips to maximize refunds, avoid errors and get a little something extra back.
First be sure to sign your 1040. It's a silly mistake, but one plenty of people make - especially if you're filling out forms online and then printing them to mail. Review page-by-page to make sure your signature is in all the right places.
Next, review tax changes. There were plenty, especially for homeowners. If you made energy-efficient upgrades to your home, check to see if you qualify for a tax credit of up to $1,500. Non-itemizing homeowners are allowed to deduct an extra $1,000 in property taxes, and anyone who bought a car after February 16th of 2009 can deduct sales tax paid up to a certain extent.
Be sure to e-file. If you're owed a refund, filing electronically can get you your check up to a week sooner. Many taxpayers can also e-file for free. Go to IRS.gov for details on the free-file program.
If for whatever reason you just can't file by April 15 file an extension. Make sure you send in a Form 4868, which requests an automatic six-month extension. That gives you until October to get your paperwork in order. Just remember to pay now what you owe or face penalties and interest down the line.
Hunt for freebies because they are out there. Cinnabon, Maggie Moo's and Taco del Mar are among the businesses offering consumers a little tax relief, in the form of free food. Check the websites of your favorite chains to see if any are offering tax day promotions. Keep in mind it's participating locations only, and while supplies last.
Kelli Grant & Erika Wortham