Tips may minimize your tax time stress and put money in your pockets.
With the April 17th tax deadline just weeks away, here are some last minute tips for Maryland taxpayers from the Internal Revenue Service.
Nearly 25,000 Maryland taxpayers who failed to file an income tax return for 2008 are missing out on approximately $22.5 million in unclaimed refunds. To collect the money, they must file their 2008 returns with the IRS no later than April 17, 2012. When a return is not filed, the law provides taxpayers with just a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. Half of those who could claim refunds would receive more than $641. IRS forms and publications are available on the IRS website, at www.irs.gov .
Hundreds of free IRS volunteer tax help sites are open to assist taxpayers in preparing basic tax returns. The volunteer sites help prepare basic tax returns for older taxpayers, people with disabilities, non-English speaking individuals and other people who cannot afford professional assistance. Tax volunteers can be found at convenient neighborhood sites - such as libraries, senior centers, or college campuses.
"IRS Free File allows taxpayers earning $57,000 or less to e-file their tax returns for free through the IRS website," said IRS spokeswoman, Peggy Riley. "E-file is fast, it’s free and it’s safe. Last year in Maryland, nearly 2 million returns were e-filed," she said. For Maryland taxpayers who make more than $57,000 or who are comfortable preparing their own tax return, there is Free File Fillable Forms. There is no software assistance with Free File Fillable Forms. It does basic math calculations.
"Workers with low incomes should review their eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit to see if they qualify for tax relief. Last year in Maryland, 387,000 filers collected $822 million in EITC payments. The average EITC amount in Maryland was $2,121. The IRS estimates that four out of five eligible taxpayers claimed the credit last year. This credit could be as much as $5,700. Use IRS Free File, a volunteer tax site or the EITC Assistant on the IRS website to get help to claim EITC," Riley said.
The IRS also cautions Maryland taxpayers to watch out for Tax Scams. "During tax season we see an increase in phishing scams using the IRS name and logo," said Riley. "The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayer about their accounts through e-mail, text messages or other social media. Anyone who receives an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS should avoid opening any attachments or clicking on any links.
If you cannot file your return by the April 17 deadline, make sure to get a six-month automatic filing extension (until October 15) by completing and filing Form 4868, or by e-filing Form 4868 using a personal computer, via a tax professional or you can use either IRS Free File option to file an extension. Remember, its an extension of time to file not time to pay, make sure to include a payment for the amount of estimated taxes owed.