Taxes, last minute mistakes could cost you money

Knoxville tax experts offer their most common mistakes

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – With just two days to go until the April 15 deadline, the race is on to file your taxes. If you procrastinated this tax season, you are not alone.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with waiting to file your income taxes, however those who wait are often those who owe money. If you owe the government money, you might want to earn interest on it right up until the last minute, but under the pressure of a deadline, you might miss items.

One common mistake by flustered fliers is math errors. Aaron Phillips with H&R Block said errors are especially common by those who send in a paper return.

“The biggest ones we see for people who have prepared taxes themselves are forgetting to sign, putting the wrong social security and flipping two numbers around” said Phillips. “We are also seeing a lot of people who are putting the wrong filing status.”

Phillips said a lot of people don’t realize if they were married as late as December 31 of last year, they can file as married. However, if you have already made that error, he says you can go back and file an amended return.

“That’s where you go back and tell the IRS, ‘hey, I left something off, I need to change this,” said Phillips. He said the IRS may send an additional refund or may ask you to pay more money when you file an amended return.

Lisa Atkins, the office manager for H&R Block also says a lot of tax payers are mishandling educational expenses. “A lot of people don’t understand the different credit and deductions they can take for themselves or their children they have in school,” said Atkins. “Someone who is in college can take the American Opportunity Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit and the recently renewed Tuition and Fees Deduction.” Atkins said the Tuition and Fees Deduction expired last year, but was extended for this year.

For those choosing to use a tax service, Atkins said bringing the proper paperwork can help speed up the process. “One of the big things people aren’t bringing in  right now is the 1095-A,” said Atkins. She says the 1095-A is for those people who opted into the Health Care Marketplace and proves someone has health insurance, how much they paid on their premiums and if they had any subsidies.

If you can’t make the filing deadline or won’t be able to get all of your paperwork together before Wednesday, Atkins says you can file form 4868. By filling out this form the IRS will give an automatic extension of time. It’s a short form, however Atkins said you will still have to send in an estimate of your tax balance due.

Related: Tax filing tips: When to delay or amend

“The IRS gives you more time to file, but that does not release you from the liability to pay by April 15. So if you think you’re going to owe the IRS money, you need to pay that with your extension, but if you don’t have your documents together or you need more time to get your paperwork done, this gives you more time to prepare your actual return,” said Atkins.

You do not need to explain why you need extra time when you file an extension. The extension allotted is six months, pushing back the deadline to October 15 to file a completed return.

According to the IRS, about 61 percent of taxpayers file after April 1.

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