So it’s officially crunch time for taxpayers to wrap up their tax returns or, in the case of some, to start working on them. If you’re one of the many people who wait until the last minute to file their taxes, here are some tips to help get you going.

You should first start by collecting the information and papers you’ll need such as:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Wages and earning statements like W-2’s
  • A copy of last year’s tax return
  • Bank routing and bank account numbers if you plan to have your refund directly deposited or a payment automatically withdrawn

If you decide to crunch the numbers on your own, using tax preparation software can help minimize the risk of those last-minute math errors. Just be sure to remember to do the work over a secure internet connection since you’re dealing with very sensitive personal information.

And with that in mind, be sure to take extra care with your calculations. The IRS estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the 91 million paper returns filed last year had an error. Since the IRS will randomly audit about 50,000 returns this year, it is especially important to make sure that you dot your I’s, cross your T’s and check your figures.

Next, be sure you double-check the social security numbers going on the form. Write your social security number and your dependents’ social security numbers correctly. Incorrect numbers are one of the biggest mistakes people make. Missing one digit or writing an incorrect one can slow down your refund, if you are owed one.

Always remember to sign your form! Not signing tax forms is a frequent mistake. If you do not sign it, you did not file it. Those who are filing jointly must have both signatures. It is just like endorsing a check: Without the signature, your deposit is not valid.

Lastly, it’s not too late to go to a professional. If you are down to the wire, and think you need help, you still have time to consult a tax professional. About 50 percent of all taxpayers use a professional to file their taxes. Also bear in mind that when looking for a tax preparer during peak season, you should still take the extra step of vetting that person, like with the Better Business Bureau.

Remember, just because you started your tax-planning process late this year doesn’t mean next year has to be that way. Vow to start thinking about taxes earlier in the year. Wouldn’t you rather get your refund as early as possible anyway? To ensure this, be sure you keep track of your important documents and receipts all year-round, and educate yourself on the deductions that apply to you. Also, if you plan on hiring a tax professional to do your taxes for you, make sure to book your appointment early in the season when the best accounts out there are more available.

For more information on what you’ll need and what you can still do to file your taxes in these last couple of weeks before the tax deadline, contact a tax professional at Beaton Accounting at 631-921-6894 for a FREE consultation!

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