Tax Day is Just Around the Corner … Have You Filed?

Each year, approximately one-third of American taxpayers wait until April to file their tax returns.

Are you part of the majority who already filed? Kudos to you! Here are links to check on your returns:

Everyone else? You have until April 17 to file, so this is your 2-week warning.

Let’s get to it.

Filing Basics

Sure, you’ve probably paid your taxes for last year, but now it’s time to settle up with the federal and state governments. In filing your annual tax returns, you make sure you paid what you owed throughout the previous year and determine whether you’re in for a refund or if you need to write a check or two before the upcoming deadline.

As mentioned above, if you have put off doing your taxes until now, the good news is you’re not alone!

The bad news? Well, you already know the bad news — sometime before April 17, you are going to have sit down and do some math. Boo.

Free Resources

If your household/individual income is below $66,000 per year, you can choose from several free tax-filing services available. (The IRS estimates 70% of Americans are eligible.) Find free file software online through the IRS.

If you’re just looking for tips and instructions, check out Forms, Instructions & Publications from the IRS and Helpful Filing Tips from the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Special Tax Considerations for Veterans

Disability compensation, pension payments, and certain other benefit payments made to veterans and their families are not taxable. Certain veterans may also be eligible for free tax filing assistance. For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Veterans Service.

Filing an Extension

Need more time? If you know you won’t be able to complete your tax return by April 17, filing for an extension allows you to legally meet the deadline.

Federal Extension

The IRS allows you to file for an extension of up to 6 months of additional time.

Note, however, that this is not an extension of the deadline to pay any taxes owed. If you owe taxes and do not pay them by April 17, interest and penalties will be added, regardless of whether you filed an extension.

The IRS recommends making an estimated payment by April 17 to minimize penalties and interest. If you end up overpaying, you can receive a refund when your extension is processed.

State Extension

If you receive an extension from the IRS, the Georgia Department of Revenue will automatically grant you an extension for filing your state tax return. There is no need to apply separately, unless you plan to file your federal return on time and only need a state extension.

As with a federal extension, the deadline for paying any tax amount owed is not extended and penalties and interest will apply to any unpaid balance.

Georgia allows you to make an estimated payment using Form IT-560.

Make Your Money Go Further with a Tax-Deductible Donation

Once you finally reach the end of your state tax return, there is one more thing to consider.

Georgia allows taxpayers the option to donate to several state charitable funds through the “Tax-Deductible Donations to Special Funds” section of the state tax return.

To donate, simply enter a dollar amount on lines 30-38 of DOR Form 500: Individual Income Tax Return. You can choose from the following organizations:

Doing so will reduce your tax refund (or increase the amount owed), but the donations are tax deductible, meaning your money will go further. And you’ll have the satisfaction, after all that math, that some of your hard-earned income is going to a good cause.

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