10 Last-Minute Tax Tips You Need Now

The Final Countdown is on!

Your 2016 tax return is due by midnight tonight! So if you haven't finished, then settle in and get it done. And we have got you covered! Be sure to check out our Tax Center for help with any unanswered tax questions or issues.

But first, make sure you take stock of these ten super important, last-minute things to remember.

1. File something!
1. File something!

File something by midnight, tonight. Especially if you owe money, otherwise you'll be smacked with that steep failure-to-file penalty, which is 5% of your unpaid tax bill -- per month!

So just do it. There is no more room for extensions!

2. Double check everything.
2. Double check everything.

Make sure your numbers are not transposed and your Social Security number is accurate.

If you prepared your return online, your math should be correct, but if for some ridiculous reason you're still putting pencil to paper, double check it all again...and again.

3. Sign your return
3. Sign your return

If you're not electronically filing, make sure you sign your return before you mail it. So many people forget to do this, and it completely holds up the processing.

4. Make check out to the U.S. Treasury Department - not the IRS!
4. Make check out to the U.S. Treasury Department - not the IRS!

Moons ago, people were writing their tax checks or money orders to the IRS. And then scammers got smart, stole the checks, and easily changed "IRS" to "MRS" and, well, then you can add your last name from there.

But old habits die hard, so please don't do that. Make out your check to the "U. S. Treasury Department" and put your Social Security number and "2016" on the bottom. And please don't staple your payment or use a paper clip to attach it to anything. Uncle Sam is really anal about that stuff. 

And just be super careful of identity theft in general. The IRS is trying to crack down on it, but it's not going anyway

5. Make last-minute retirement contributions
5. Make last-minute retirement contributions

If you have a traditional or a Roth IRA, you had to make those contributions back in April for 2016. That's was as much as $5,500 for those younger than 50 or $6,500 for those 50 or older.

In addition, if you qualified for a health savings account, you had to that back in April as well.

But if you're self-employed and extended your return, you actually have until the midnight October 16 deadline to do the same. 

So do it!  It's a great opportunity to reduce your 2016 tax bill if you haven't done so already.

6. Milk the kids
6. Milk the kids

Deduct everything -- from dance class to daycare. From higher education costs to adoption fees, and don't forget those exchange students you took in. Thankfully, Uncle Sam wants to give you something back for all that.

7. Take your time if you're self-employed or a member of the sharing economy
7. Take your time if you're self-employed or a member of the sharing economy

Whether you have your own business or drive for Uber, you have litany of expenses and deductions now that you need to report so you can reduce your taxable income. Take your time with this. We have done a ton of stuff to help you, so take advantage of it all.

8. Tally your generosity
8. Tally your generosity

Tally everything you donated - from cash to clothes to old cars. But don't forget the less obvious stuff - like the costs of travel to charity events and the ingredients in the cupcakes you made for the church bake sale. It all helps to bring your tax bill down.

9. Scrape up last-minute deductions
9. Scrape up last-minute deductions

Go through our most missed list and those few weird deductions that are legit. We'll bet there's something on those lists that you forgot and that can help get your tax bill down.

10. Get on a payment plan
10. Get on a payment plan

And finally, if you owe money, don't blow it off. You can either charge your bill or get on a payment plan. We don't love the idea of charging your bill, unless you're disciplined enough to pay it off. Getting on an IRS payment plan is a better idea and easy to do. 

So just do it.

Deep breath. You're almost done.

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