You promised to start your taxes earlier this year and start enjoying your refund well before April 15. The fact is, the deadline is less than a month away, and you've yet to make your move.
All is not lost, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of tax law information and software. There are some last-minute steps procrastinators can take to get back on track and make good on their tax resolutions.
The first step for those just starting their taxes is bringing order to the jumble of tax information they may have accumulated over the past year.
"Many taxpayers sit down with the good intention of starting their returns only to realize they don't have all the details they need to even get past the first few steps," said Kevin Robert, president CCH Tax Compliance, developer of CompleteTax (www.completetax.com), an online tax preparation and filing service.
According to Robert, in addition to your W-4 statements, you should make sure you have 1099s for all financial holdings, as well as receipts needed to accurately claim deductions.
Get Help Completing Your Tax Returns
If you're still taking the torturous paper-and-pencil route to preparing your tax returns, you may want to seriously look for other options, considering that manually completing the 2000 tax return took the average taxpayer about 13 hours, according to IRS estimates.
Using online or software-based tax preparation services are options that have become increasingly popular in the past few years and will save you time in preparing and filing your taxes.
Typically, online solutions allow you to log on to a secure web site and walk you through a series of easy-to-understand questions to gather information about your tax situation. Based on this information, the software then calculates your taxes and electronically fills in the tax forms returns for you. Best of all, online software checks for potential mistakes you may have made, like omitting a Social Security number or math errors, and flags these for correction before you file. A listing of IRS online filing and tax preparation partners is available on the IRS Web Site.
If your taxes are highly complex or you prefer having a professional handle your return, using an accountant is another option. Ask for references from friends or colleagues about who they use and speak with the prospective accountants about your particular situation to make sure that their experience matches your needs. Also find out how they bill and what information they need from you to complete your returns.
The more organized you are before you give your tax preparer your records, the better he or she is able to prepare your return in the shortest time (and the more money you can save in fees!).
Use E-Filing and Direct Deposit for Faster Refunds
Once your tax forms are complete, electronic filing is increasingly becoming the way to go. The IRS as well as most states and the District of Columbus accept e-filed returns, and the IRS estimates that about 45 million federal returns are expected to be filed electronically this year. Among those using CCH's CompleteTax online tax prep service, more than 85 percent already have chosen to electronically file their returns.
"Electronic filing is easier for both taxpayers and the government," said Robert. "E-filers who request that the IRS make a direct deposit of their refund into their bank account can get their money in as few as 10 days compared to the month or more it can take taxpayers to receive a refund when they file paper returns."
About CCH INCORPORATED
CCH INCORPORATED, headquartered in Riverwoods, Ill., was founded in 1913 and has served four generations of business professionals and their clients. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer North America. The CCH web site can be accessed at cch.com. The CCH tax and accounting destination site can be accessed at tax.cchgroup.com.