The Internal Revenue Service wants taxpayers, especially those who received tax-filing extensions, to know they can still get the tax help they need to meet the Oct. 16 extension deadline.
Taxpayers can still file their returns electronically. The IRS strongly urges all taxpayers to choose the speed and convenience of e-filing. This is an ideal option as it is fast, accurate and secure. The IRS verifies the receipt of an e-filed return and, statistically, those who choose to file electronically make fewer mistakes. Of the 145.3 million returns received by the IRS so far this year, approximately 87.5 percent — or 127.2 million — have been e-filed.
Individuals who purchase their own tax software can e-file, and most paid tax preparers are now required to file their clients’ returns electronically.
All taxpayers can use IRS Free File. This program offers two options: Brand-name software, offered by the IRS’s commercial partners to individuals and families with incomes of $64,000 or less; Or online fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms available for any income level.
The fastest and easiest way to get a refund is to e-file and use direct deposit. More than eight out of ten taxpayers who receive refunds choose the speed and convenience of direct deposit. Individuals can choose to deposit their refunds into as many as three accounts. See Form 8888 for details.
Free face-to-face tax help is still available across the country. The IRS sponsors free tax preparation assistance through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program. Both programs provide IRS-certified volunteers to prepare federal and state tax returns electronically for people with low-to-moderate income, seniors, disabled individuals or people who speak English as a second language. More information on available locations, times and what to bring can be found by typing “free tax return preparation” in the search box on IRS.gov.
The IRS encourages taxpayers to carefully check their tax return before they file. Individuals may overlook certain credits, deductions or allowable expenses they qualify for such as:
- The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a benefit for low- and moderate-income workers and families. The EITC Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers determine if they’re eligible;
- The Savers Credit for low- and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k). Individuals will need Form 8880 to claim the credit; and
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit, claimed on Form 8863 and other educational tax benefits for parents and college students.
Other taxpayers, such as members of the military and some other groups serving in a combat zone, are allowed more time to file. Typically, these individuals have until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due.
Also, those taxpayers who have a valid extension and are in or affected by a federal declared disaster area may be allowed more time to file. Currently, taxpayers in parts of Michigan, West Virginia and those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria qualify for this relief. See the disaster relief page on IRS.gov for details.
Taxpayers with extensions should file their tax returns by Oct. 16, if they owe, they should pay as much as possible to reduce interest and penalties. IRS Direct Pay allows individuals to securely pay from their checking or savings accounts.
Taxpayers can also pay by debit or credit card. While the IRS does not charge a fee for this service, the payment processer will. Other payment options include the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (enrollment is required) and Electronic Funds Withdrawal which is available when e-filing. Taxpayers can also pay what they owe using the IRS2Go, mobile app. At IRS.gov/payments taxpayers will find information about all IRS payment options.