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5 Tax Filing Tips for Procrastinators

Tax procrastinators take note: The April 15 tax deadline is now just a month away, so now is the time to get cracking on those taxes.

Even if you think you still have ample time to fill out your 1040, or plan to use an easy online service, at least take a few minutes to gather all of your W-2s and other tax documents in one place (or even take pictures of them on your smartphone and organize those photos into an album). That way you'll be more prepared for when you're finally ready to sit down and tackle your tax return (come April 14).

Not sure you'll make the tax deadline? Here are some tips if you regularly procrastinate filing your taxes:

  1. File an extension. Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to extend your time for filing by submitting Form 4868. But here's the catch: It's an extension to file, but not an extension to pay. That means if you owe taxes, your deadline to pay what you owe is still April 15, regardless of when you file your return.

  2. Schedule the time to do it. Sometimes, the only reason you're not getting a task accomplished is because you're just scared that it will take up your whole day. So, set aside that whole day and you may be pleasantly surprised at how little time it takes, once you're organized. Besides, once you've taken care of your tax return, you can feel the load being lifted off your shoulders.

  3. Read up on the tax code. Perhaps you're dragging your feet because you have no clue what you're supposed to be doing. Read up on tax law and get to know the basics. As far as most people's taxes are concerned, it's not rocket science, and FindLaw offers some very user-friendly articles on tax law.

  4. Use a step-by-step guide. If all you need is some simple guidance, check out FindLaw's Step-by-Step Guide to Filing Your Federal Taxes. It's simple, easy and gets you where you need to go.

  5. Hire some help. You can hire a CPA or Enrolled Agent (EA) if you just need to file. If you have more complicated issues, or a potential legal problem, surrounding your tax planning, it may be wise to hire a tax attorney. Keep in mind that delaying filing past the deadline can often be more costly than hiring a professional at the height of tax season.

Tax season is in full swing, and the clock is ticking. Don't be lazy about your taxes. It could come back to haunt you.

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