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Income Tax Questions - Last Minute Tax Tips

Updated on December 21, 2014
Form 1040 includes itemized deductions.
Form 1040 includes itemized deductions. | Source

Do you need help with your taxes?

Have you filed your taxes yet for this year? For 2012, the normal April 15th deadline has been extended to April 17th. If you haven’t yet done your taxes, there is still time, but you must make some quick decisions to meet the deadline. If you need assistance with your taxes, there is help available.

Do you need an extension on your taxes?

If you need an extension because you can’t get your taxes done on time, file with an accountant or file yourself. Remember, though, that filing an extension doesn’t mean that any money you owe won’t be penalized. The extension is for the tax return, not the amount you must pay. To avoid large penalties on the money you owe, consider sending in an estimated amount of what you think your tax amount will be. However, if you think you can finish your taxes on time, then there are other decisions to make.

Should you do your taxes yourself?

If you don’t plan to claim deductions, such as home mortgage and charitable contributions, then you might consider filing a basic EZ form yourself. If easy enough, it might be worth it to you to save an accountant’s fee, which is usually around $200 or more, and just fill out your tax return form yourself.

Some TurboTax programs offer both federal and state tax returns.
Some TurboTax programs offer both federal and state tax returns.

Should you get an accountant?

If you have deductions, it might be worth your while—and your money, as you might make up for any fee spent for an accountant. Over the years, I have learned a lot about tax deductions and those that I would have missed if doing my taxes on my own. Do you have mortgage interest? Any interest on college loans you’re paying back? What about work expenses that weren’t reimbursed? Medical expenses, while deductible, must reach 7.5% of your income. Have you contributed to churches or other charitable organizations? Have you taken loads of goods to the local Salvation Army or other thrift store? Do you have rental property? What have you spent on it for repairs and improvements? Have you installed energy-saving appliances, insulation, or windows in your home? Some of these energy-saving improvements may be deductible. Do you work from home? If so, you may be able to deduct a portion of your home for office space, and even part of your utilities. You may be able to deduct part or all of your phone bill, computer expenses, and anything else you use for your home business.

Will a tax software program work for you?

Deductions can be complicated, and an expert can help. If you don’t want to pay a certified public accountant, you might consider a software program that guides you through filling out your taxes, prompting you for the information it needs as you answer questions. Turbo Tax software can range from around $29.95 to near $100, offering a substantial savings over the fees of an accountant. If your tax return is relatively simple, consider purchasing a basic tax software program—or you may even be able to get a free version. For numerous deductions and a potentially complicated tax return, look for the more deluxe TurboTax software.

Save more on TurboTax and other tax software programs

Save even more by looking at these TurboTax deals that offer a variety of software programs for your tax needs, from a free download to up to 40% off. Tax-Software Coupons also gives you options of other software, ranging from free to 60% off. Decide first on whether or not you need an extension for this year. Then, if you’re ready to file your taxes, save money by checking out these discounts on TurboTax and other income tax software—and get those taxes done!

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    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      NatashaHand--If you have a lot of different areas to look at, an accountant might be the answer . . . . Good luck!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Crystal -- Thanks for the testimonial. That's very helpful!

    • NatashaHand profile image

      Natasha 3 years ago from Mississippi

      I think I should just take mine to the accountant this year. I love Turbo Tax but last year's return didn't work out too well

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

      Good tips -I have used Turbo Tax the past few years and found it to be very quick and easy.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Audrey--10 more days!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Paul, An accountant can certainly be worth the fee, as they know more about what we can deduct. My accountant has saved me thousands over the years. He's well worth his fee. Thanks for the info and input!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      LOL, Jeff! You'd better get that stuff done! Good to see you!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, Pinto. I hope so! I hope it helps people to get organized and get things done!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Get on it, CC! Get those taxes done! My taxes are kind of complicated with lots of different deductions, but they say that Turbo tax has some good ones for that. Who knows? I've been with my accountant for so long. Get busy, girl!

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      I'm trying!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Victoria,

      This is a useful hub on tax filing tips. I used to do taxes myself to save having to pay the preparer's fee. After my tax situation got more complicated and I realized I was missing out on deductions I could have taken, I hired a tax preparer here in Thailand. He is an American who is a CPA. His fee is only a little over $100 and he has always gotten me the maximum tax refund I am due. If you are an expat living overseas you are entitled to an earned income credit for employment overseas. He also pointed out to me that if you have at least $10,000 in a foreign bank account, you have to report this fact to the Department of Treasury every year. Voted up as useful and sharing with followers.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Audrey--better hurry and get those taxes done!

    • Jeff Gamble profile image

      Jeff Gamble 4 years ago from Denton, Texas

      Vicki - All my W2s, 1099's and receipts and stuff you need for my schedule C are in the mail to you! Great hub!

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Your hub is really going to benefit so many people. These types of hubs are quite practical and helpful to reach the actual needs.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Awesome hub - I like to use TurboTax, but for years when our taxes were really complicated, we've used accountants, too. Sound advice and...it's 4/3/13...have I done my taxes, yet? haha...nope. ;0)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      Timely hub Vicky--on my to-do list!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      That's great, randomcreative! Good to know that TurboTax has helped you. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
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      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Cardisa. Yes, it sure can be a pain. Of course, we pay sales tax on the items we purchase, too. I don't know the percentage compared to what you pay. The IRS isn't really scary if we do our taxes right! LOL. That's why hiring a professional or using a reputable software is better than trying to struggle through all the tax codes and rules by ourselves. Thanks for the comments.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks for the tips! TurboTax has been a lifesaver for us. We've had a handful of complicated returns over the years with multiple states, multiple mortgages, etc., and the software has made it so easy. One big advantage of the software is that when things don't change (i.e. address), you can simply use the info. from last year.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 5 years ago from Jamaica

      I am so glad our system isn't set up like that. We pay taxes on everything so only the business people file tax returns. So we pay our taxes when we purchase food, hardware just about everything. The only tax we do worry about is our land tax. I often see movies about the IRS and it's really scary...lol

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, teaches! I hope it helps, and I appreciate your compliment about it being "well written."

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You may have just helped many last-minute tax filers with an important decision. Good coverage and well written.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      bankscottage--Thanks for your input. Yes, whatever people do, they need to hurry! Time is running out!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image
      Author

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Hi, RealH! I've learned that I save more with an accountant than I would on my own. Plus, I don't want to mess with it. Accountants or software can do the job well! :-)

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Good advice. A lot of people don't realize that asking for an extension only extends when you have to file not when you have to pay as you point out.

      There is an option between tax software and a CPA. There are tax prep offices (H & R Block, Jackson-Hewitt, Liberty, and mom and pop local outfits). Many are reputable and can be more helpful than software but cost less than a CPA.

      Don't wait too long, the end is near and all of the procrastinators are rushing to the same places to get their taxes done.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Ahhh SBO nightmare! I used to do my own taxes - but since I opened my business I have to have an accountant. There are just too many things I'd miss. I really wish I could save the money but I do believe he saves me more on the tax bill with his knowledge than I would for the lack of it.

      Excellent!