Waited to the last minute to file taxes? Tax expert provides tips to help speed things up

tax deadline
Posted at 7:58 AM, May 16, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Monday, May 17 is the new deadline set for Americans to file their taxes, after it was pushed back from the original date of April 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you waited until the last minute to file your taxes, you aren't alone. Intuit, the company that produces the tax-filing software TurboTax, reported that roughly a quarter of Americans wait to the last minute to file their taxes, specifically a two-week window before Tax Day.

Dr. Xialoi Yuan, a professor of accounting and taxes at Elizabeth City State University, said there are reasons and factors why someone may wait until the last minute.

"There are many reasons -- personal reasons or other issues, waiting for tax documents, or making corrections during the preparation," Yuan said.

Yuan shared some tips to help stragglers get up to speed.

The first thing he suggested is for you to make any final tax-deductible contributions to any IRA retirement accounts or health savings account you have up to the allowable limits.

Second, he advised that people who did not get any stimulus checks, but did qualify, can claim them as a tax credit when filing.

Third, you can itemize any donations you made to qualifying charities. Make sure you have needed documents to show the donation.

He also said for those with investments, especially those who have bought cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, make sure you report those when filing using the form 8494, which is used to report investments.

"All exchange of crypto must be accounted for on your tax return, just as a taxpayer would account for the sale of any other financial asset," Yuan said.

If you still feel you will be pressed for time, Yuan, and the IRS, say you can file for an extension that will allow you to file by October 15. The deadline to file for an extension is also Monday.

Filing an extension will give you more time to file, but according to the IRS, it will not guarantee you more time to pay any taxes owed. That is why the IRS urges you to estimate and pay any taxes owed by the May 17 deadline to avoid penalties and extra fees.

Yuan also urged filers to make sure all your information and figures on the return forms and calculations are correct. Mistakes could lead to a potential audit from the IRS.