Tardy Tax Season: How to Make Up for IRS' Late Start

Posted on 01/16/2014

The 16-day government shut down came during the peak prep period for the 2014 tax filing system, according to IRS.gov. Since about 90 percent of IRS operations were closed during the shutdown the IRS got behind which forced them to delay the start of the filing season to January 31. That's ten days later than expected. Here are some tips for handling the IRS delay.

Use Free File
Eager to get a jump on your taxes? Just because the system is closed until the end of January doesn't mean you have to wait until then to prep your taxes. Free File is the IRS' system for accessing free brand-name software to complete your federal return for free. Starting January 17 you can visit IRS.gov to get a jump on your taxes. The Free File companies will securely hold your completed return until the system opens for service January 31.

Use e-File
The IRS says the fastest way to get your refund is by e-filing your return. According to the IRS, "Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file." If you opt for the Free File system, choose direct deposit to access your refund faster.

Remember April 15
Just because the IRS is getting a late start doesn't mean we get more time on the back end. Keep in mind that the April 15 tax deadline is set by statute and doesn't change. However if you need an extension you can apply for one by filling out Form 4868 which can be done electronically.

Consider Tax Deductions
While the deadline has passed for charitable contributions that can count towards your 2013 taxes you have until April 15, 2014 to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2013. If you're looking for more deductions this could help.

Review a Tax Prep Checklist
Since we all have a shorter amount of time to get our taxes done this year it's a good idea to have everything in order. Review this free printable Tax Preparation Checklist from TurboTax. It gives you a list of what most people will need in order to get the job done. Attach the list to a folder of tax documents and check off items as you gather them. It will make the process of completing your 2013 tax return a little easier.

By Alison Storm

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