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The tax man cometh: Last-minute tax filing tips

PHOENIX — The tax filing deadline is looming and that means many will be scrambling to meet Tuesday’s cutoff.

Bill Brunson, spokesman with the IRS, recommends last-minute filers use online services to file and for several important reasons.

“That electronically filed tax return won’t let you make a math error,” he said. “(It) won’t let you claim a dependent on a return without a social security number…it just does all those checks and balances for you.”

Brunson said more than 85 percent of Arizonans now use online programs and they have much greater accuracy when filing. On average, roughly 13 percent of paper filings have errors, he said.

Common mistakes include incorrect postage, claiming the wrong filing status, partners forgetting to sign on a joint return and mathematical errors, Brunson said.

“You still have time to file, and if you are going to file, choose to file electronically,” he said.

The IRS even allows people to file for free online using their website.

If filers are running behind and might not make the deadline, Brunson said it’s important to request an extension to save on penalties.

“If you have monies that you’re going to owe and you request the extension to file, then you would be assessed a late-paying penalty,” Brunson said. “But you would not be assessed a late-filing penalty, because you requested the extension to file.”

Requesting an extension allows for an extra six months to submit paperwork and the fee for a late payment is only half a percent, compared to the 5 percent fee for failing to file.

Brunson said out of the 2.8 million tax returns expected to be filed by Arizonans this year, the IRS expects 270,500 people to seek filing extensions.

All filings or requests for extension are due by midnight Tuesday.