Charleston, SC (WCBD) — Do you wait until the last minute to file your taxes? Tax experts say it’s a common tendency that leads to long lines and rushed returns.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you put off paying Uncle Sam.
The first thing that many tax professionals recommend is filing an extension. An extension is easy to do and it gives taxpayers until October to file their returns. This is recommended to ensure that you do not incur a late penalty. Filing a late tax return means you can get slapped with a fee, 5 percent a month up to 5 months on the taxes you owe. That means if you owe 5,000 dollars you can be charged up to 1,250 dollars on top of what you owe. Experts also recommend filing an extension to allow time to take advantage of every deduction and credit that may apply.
Tax professionals also recommend getting organized. A shoe box full of receipts can mean less time available to maximize your return. More time spent organizing before filing can mean more credits or a larger refund. A larger volume of people filing their taxes allow less time for experts to work with individual clients.
There are also many ways to file a return at a low cost or even free.
There are dozens of options for individuals to file online. Typically these sites provide free federal filings along with a small charge for state returns.
Many online sites also include easy to use formats and step by step directions; however, many professionals say filing taxes yourself may mean lost time and missed deductions.
There are also organizations that provide free tax filing for moderate to low income households. The Charleston Trident Urban League provides this service across the lowcountry. Beginning in January, CTUL begins this service at various locations across parts of Charleston County , including 3 days a week at the Charleston County Library.
CTUL provides IRS approved professionals who will file taxes for nearly 3000 people this year. The week before taxes are due they see as many as 50 people a day.
They say the most important thing for people to know is that filing taxes is not optional. They encourage everyone to file a return or an extension by the 18th even if they are unsure they can pay the taxes they owe. There are payment plans available, but taxes not collected by April 18th will gain interest. They say not filing all together will only mean more money owed down the road.