(NEW YORK) — As millions of tax filers scramble to file their tax returns before the April 15 deadline, they run the risk of making mistakes that can be easy to avoid. And this year, there’s more late-filers than in 2012, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
As of March 22, the IRS reported that 80.5 million individual tax returns had been received, compared with 84.9 million on March 23, 2012.
Lisa Greene-Lewis, lead CPA with the American Tax and Financial Center at TurboTax, said many people have lingering questions as they prepare their taxes in the final hours.
TurboTax experts are available to answer questions for those who use the company’s software, but you can fix some errors yourself by simply double-checking your filing.
Here are five tips from TurboTax for last-minute filers:
1. Go Online
Both the IRS and TurboTax recommend filing your taxes online, thereby avoiding post office lines and making an appointment. The IRS’ Free File allows you to e-file electronically and get your tax refund quickly. Plus, you can track your tax refund status within 72 hours after you e-file.
2. Don’t Forget Opportunities for Credits, Deductions
Taxpayers have until April 15 to sign up for to an IRA to get a deduction on their return. Also, Greene-Lewis urges filers to remember charitable contributions, education credits and even expenses related to job-searching in your field.
3. E-file with Direct Deposit
The IRS agrees that using e-file with direct deposit is the fastest option for taxpayers. The IRS expects to issue nine out of 10 refunds in 21 days or less, but the agency said it was issuing refunds to more taxpayers “in as few as 10 days this year for those who e-file and select direct deposit.”
4. Double Check Your Figures
Greene-Lewis of TurboTax urges filers to double-check even the familiar figures in a tax return, like Social Security numbers.
“I always recommend they check dependents’ Social Security numbers,” she said. “Those Social Security numbers for dependents give you [the possibiliy] for a lot of tax deductions for dependents. If they’re incorrect, you won’t be able to get those tax deductions.”
5. Don’t Panic If You Need More Time
You can request an extra six months by filing for an extension, but TurboTax reminds filers that this is not an extension to pay. Taxpayers still need to send the IRS a payment for estimated taxes owed, and it must be 90 percent accurate, to avoid penalties.
TurboTax allows you to file a federal tax extension for free.
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