April 16, 2009 at 1:50 AM EST - Updated June 16 at 7:22 PM
ATLANTA, Ga -- The IRS offers these tips for handling some typical after-tax-day issues:
Didn't file by April 15? If you failed to file a 2008 tax return by the deadline, it's not too late. If you owe taxes with your return, it's likely you'll be charged interest and penalties on anything not paid by April 15, along with a late-filing penalty. It's too late to request an extension of time to file, so the important thing is to file your return as soon as possible. To reduce the penalties and interest, pay as much as you can with the return. If you're due a refund and file late, you probably won't be penalized, but you could lose the refund if you don't claim it within 3 years.
Want to check the status of your refund? Visit IRS.gov and click on "Where's My Refund?". You'll need to input the primary Social Security Number on your return, your filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.) and the amount of refund you expect. If you don't have Internet access, call 1-800-829-1954 to check on your refund.
Not happy with the amount of your tax refund? Fix it now for next year by adjusting the amount you pay in. If you're an employee, use the IRS's online Withholding Calculator to figure the correct status and number of allowances. Then adjust your withholding by filling out a new Form W-4 with your personnel office. If you're self-employed, adjust your estimated tax payments. And if you're not making estimated tax payments, you can start on June 15, the next due date, using Form 1040-ES. Visit IRS.gov for details.
Need an installment agreement? If you owe the IRS money and can't pay it all, visit IRS.gov to set up an online installment agreement. The $105 set-up fee drops to $52 if you make your payments via automatic debit. Lower-income applicants may qualify for a reduced fee of $43. The fees are adjusted automatically when your online application is processed. If you don't have Web access, call 1-800-829-1040 to set up an IRS payment plan.
Want to e-file your tax return now? E-filing is still available through Oct. 15, the filing deadline for those who requested an extension. But even if you didn't file an extension, you can still e-file your return. Use the tax software you bought, or if your 2008 adjusted gross income was not over $56,000, use the IRS Free File program. Caution! To avoid tax scams, access Free File only through IRS.gov.
Realized you need to fix an error on your return? The IRS will usually correct math errors and may even accept returns with certain forms or schedules left off. But if, for example, you forgot to include reportable income or a deduction or credit, you can file a Form 1040X to amend your return. The form is available at IRS.gov or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM. Be sure to wait until your original return has processed before trying to amend it.
Got an e-mail from the IRS? Beware! The IRS will never contact you about your taxes via e-mail. If you get an e-mail that appears to be from the IRS about your refund or directing you to a Web site, it's probably an attempt by scammers to steal your private information. Don't click on any links in the message - forward the fake e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org using the instructions at www.irs.gov. Remember, too, the IRS will use ONLY the U. S. Mail to communicate with you about your stimulus payment or "rebate."
Need help with a tax problem? If you encounter a federal tax problem, contact the IRS immediately. Waiting can cost you time and money. If you get a notice from the IRS, call the phone number on the notice for help. Or call the general IRS help line toll-free at 1-800-829-1040. If you've tried the normal IRS channels and the problem still isn't resolved, contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service toll-free at 1-877-777-4778 for free assistance.
Keep a copy of your tax return? Now that your tax return is complete, be sure to keep a copy of it. Tax records should usually be kept for at least three years. Records/documents relating to home purchase or sale, stock transactions, tax years where no return was filed or where a fraudulent return was filed, bad debts, and important assets should be kept longer.
Do you have a record keeping system? You can avoid headaches at tax time by keeping track of your receipts and other records throughout the year. If you don't have a record keeping system, now is a good time to start one for tax year 2009. It can be as simple as file folders or a shoebox. Just put everything that relates to taxes in one place. However, the more organized your records are, the easier it will be to complete your tax return next year. There is no substitute for good records. A good record keeping system can help ensure that you don't miss out on any credits or deductions when you file your tax return.