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Filed a Tax Extension? 4 Tips for Meeting the October Deadline

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 NextAdvisor.com
TAXES © Marilyn Nieves via Getty Images TAXES

By Michael Osakwe, NextAdvisor.com
We're already almost midway into October, which means that the season for extended tax filing is ending soon. If you requested an extension on your 2014 taxes, the six-month period will end on October 15. Although the tax extension deadline is nearly here, you still have time to file, and to help you meet your deadline, we've compiled some things you should keep in mind when filing your taxes last minute.
Gather the appropriate forms
Whether you're filing on time or during the extended period, the basics of tax preparation are exactly the same. You'll first need to take note of what forms and information are relevant to the filing of your tax return. Forms for filing income taxes usually include the 1040 or one of its two well-known variants - the 1040-A and 1040EZ. If you're filing online, your program should tell you which variant you're filling out.
With tax returns, you'll generally also need certain documentation that informs you of information pertinent to your finances. Most commonly, you'll need some sort of income documentation if you're working, such as a W-2, which you should have received from your employer. Aside from the W-2 and its variants, 1099 forms detail income as well, although these forms are not provided by an employer. You're likely only to have a 1099 or one if its variants if you're self-employed (1099-MISC) or if you have dividends or some form of monetary gain acquired outside of work, such as if you sell homemade items or any other goods.
Other necessary forms include the 1098 forms, which typically detail money you've had to pay, such as payments on mortgages or student loans. The standard 1098 is for mortgage payments while the 1098-E and 1098-T variants are for student loan payments and tuition payments, respectively.
You might want to have last year's tax return on hand as well. Also, if you intend to claim other types of deductions such as those expenses for dependents or work, you may want any relevant financial documentation including receipts, income or expense statements on hand with you as you file.
Double check your work
Doing things last minute tends to make you more error prone -- filing taxes as the clock ticks down is no exception. The IRS says that last-minute filers are more likely to make all sorts of errors, ranging from arithmetic and computational mistakes to filing errors, such as imputing invalid social security numbers or misspelling names. All of these mistakes could either delay your taxes from being processed or invalidate your return outright. Similarly, other mistakes like omitting self-generated income or excluding potential deductions might hurt you in the long run. The IRS recommends scanning your records for anything that might make you eligible for commonly missed deductions or changes to your obligations. While those who go with e-filing will essentially have a second pair of eyes in the form of software designed to look out for these type of mistakes, the IRS still recommends reviewing its common mistakes checklist to make you more vigilant.
Know your filing options
While you can elect to mail your forms, the IRS strongly recommends e-filing because of its speed of processing and ease of use. However, if you are submitting your taxes through traditional mail, as long as your documents are postmarked by October 15, they will be considered on time. To e-file, you have the choice of using tax preparation software -- many of which include support from certified tax experts -- or IRS-supported Free File, available to families and individuals making under $60,000/year. E-filing is usually the best option because it will allow you to catch common mistakes, as it automatically assess your tax benefits based on your unique circumstances, and overall expedite the process of filing.
Know your payment options
Although your deadline might have been extended, technically interest-free tax payments were due on April 15. However, if you still have some remaining outstanding payments with the IRS, the organization offers a myriad of ways to pay -- Direct Pay, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, Electronic Funds Withdrawal, same-day wire and check or money order.
However, if you can't afford full upfront payment of your tax burden, you may want to look into the IRS's relief or payment plan programs, as well as consider why paying your taxes with a credit card might be your best bet. Not sure which tax service you should use to file? Read our tax preparation services reviews to see which will best fit your tax needs.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.

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