Tax Basics

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[Complete Taxes Quickly!] How to File a Tax Return in 1 Week

April 12, 2016 : Kristin Shaw

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It’s the final countdown. Really. Your tax return has to be filed by April 18. That’s one week away. Here are a few ways to address this reality.

1. Forget finishing the return; file an extension instead.

Just can’t make it in time? You can file an extension and automatically get six more months to complete your return. There’s just one catch – if you owe the IRS, you still need a payment that is at least 90% of your tax bill by Tax Day in order to avoid the failure-to-pay penalty.

Note that if you are in the military, have a spouse in an active combat zone, or live abroad there are different deadline rules that apply to you.

2. Get Professional Help.

Have a pile of paperwork? Feel completely overwhelmed? Make an appointment at an H&R Block office to have someone help you get that return filed ASAP.

Remember to get advice from a professional you can trust. No matter how quickly the deadline is approaching, anyone who offers you a bigger refund than you’re due or advises you to claim credits and deductions you don’t qualify for may be preparing a fraudulent return.

3. Do It Yourself.

Yes, it’s possible. Prepare yourself for either a marathon session (the average tax return takes 16 hours to complete) or plan on spreading out the work over a couple days.

The first step is to gather all the documents you will need. Common ones include: Form W-2, a 1095 form reporting health care coverage and a 1098-T reporting student loan interest. See this list of many other common forms and what to do if you can’t find one.

If you get stumped, there are number of good resources to use. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant has a search function to look up information on any tax term, or you can browse from the list of categories to select the topic you are interested in. The “interactive” part of the tax assistant will ask you questions about your situation to help determine the answer to your question. H&R Block also has a great online resource to help you get answers to your tax questions. You can browse by topics or type in a search term to research a particular question. The Tax Institute at H&R Block provides answers in the database.

Once you’re armed with knowledge and all the tax documents, it is time to select an online program or software and get started. We are partial to H&R Block’s online option, of course.

Before submitting your return, be sure to check for simple mistakes. That includes making sure the following are right: your name, Social Security number, address, amount of income, bank account information and the names of any dependents. It might seem silly, but they are easy to overlook and can slow down your refund or result in needing to amend your return.

Finally, hit submit and bask in the fantastic feeling of being done! Now you can follow the proper course of action to complete taxes quickly — and correctly.

Kristin Shaw

Kristin Shaw

H&R Block

Kristin was previously the editor of Block Talk, the official H&R Block blog. Prior to joining H&R Block, Kristin worked in marketing for higher education institutions and actually taught some college classes too.

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