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Tips for tax time Dave Schwab | Sat, Apr 05 2014 12:00 PM

An IRS spokesman said April 15 can go a lot easier for taxpayers if they just take advantage of available technology.

“Tax software holds your hand all the way through and makes the process easy and convenient,” said Raphael Tulino of IRS media relations for Southern California, the San Francisco Bay area and Nevada.

Plus, said Tulino, a paperless return (choosing direct deposit instead of a paper check) will get the vast majority of taxpayers their refund sooner, within 10 to 21 days.

Tulino said the biggest mistakes taxpayers make in filling out their returns are math errors, i.e. transposition of SSNs (transposing numbers), figuring tax tables incorrectly, hastily doing tax returns or submitting them with errors or forgetting about an important deduction or tax credit.

What’s the most important thing for people to remember this time of year?

“If you cannot get your tax return completed by April 15 then request the automatic six-month extension of time to file,” Tulino said.

What can people do to help streamline income tax filing?

“Get your stuff together and hit enter,” answered Tulino. “Avoid extreme procrastination and do it in steps — one day you organize all your records, then sit down and do it online the next day.”

Are there any new changes in the law that could impact taxpayers’ returns this year?

“Simplified home office deduction,” noted Tulino, adding “same-sex couples married by the end of 2013 (in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage) must now file a joint return.”

Tulino offered these helpful hints for taxpayers:

• Get to a computer and use E-file. www.irs.gov/Filing. As of March 21, 91 percent of all returns sent in to the IRS were sent electronically.

• Watch for scams — both by phone and email exhibiting various nuances and characteristics — www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Scams-Consumer-Alerts

• If you need to request an extension of time to file through Oct. 15, there are two ways to do it — paper form 4868 and through software: www.irs.gov/uac/Form-4868-Application-for-Automatic-Extension-of-Time-To-File-U.S.-Individual-Income-Tax-Return.

•  Remember though, if a taxpayer owes or thinks they owe, then April 15 is still the deadline otherwise they risk penalties and interest.

For those who cannot fully pay a balance due, the IRS urges them to file the return anyway, pay what they can, and then work it out over time such as with an installment agreement: www.irs.gov/Payments.

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