VOL. 110 | NO. 74 | Monday, April 15, 1996
4/15 jts investment focus
IRS has Top 10 List for Procrastinators
File early and often: the sooner the return, the sooner the refund
By JAMES SNYDER
The Daily News
All right, today is April 15, the day of the deadline.
To help the procrastinating public, the Internal Revenue Service is back in Dave Letterman mode. The IRS has issued its official Top 10 List of Last-Minute Tax Tips.
"We expect about 396,000 to file a tax return on Monday," said IRS assistant public affairs officer Dan Boone.
So get on with it. Only hours remain.
Waiting to the last minute usually increases the chance of making mistakes. The IRS suggests double-checking all names and Social Security numbers to avoid a delayed refund.
Only a half million of nearly 2.3 million Tennessee filers send in their returns early, mostly because they expect a hefty refund, Boone said. The average refund is up 35 percent this year to about $1,324.
For taxpayers who received an IRS TeleFile Package, the return is a quick telephone call away. More than 73,000 Tennesseans have used the TeleFile system, which is based on the 1040EZ form and speeds up processing and refunds.
If the tax return form has suddenly become missing, spare forms can be had at most local libraries, through the IRS home page on the World Wide Web (http://www.irs.ustreas.gov), through the IRS bulletin board via modem at (703) 321-8020 or through the Fax On Demand system by dialing (703) 487-4160 from a fax machine.
Get a return or an extension request in the mail today. To extend, file a form 4868. Otherwise, a late filing penalty will loom. But extensions are not uncommon. Last year 92,000 Tennesseans extended their filing, Boone said.
Putting off the return will delay refunds. To hurry up that money, ask for a direct deposit when filing electronically through a certified tax processor. That way, the refund will sooner appear in the bank, avoiding the time and risk of mailed refund checks. This year direct deposit is available for the first time on paper returns.
It seems electronic filing is the way of the future, Boone said. There has been an 11 percent drop in paper returns over last year and a 5 percent increase in electronic filings during the same time.
Last year, 366,000 taxpayers filed electronically. Boone said the IRS is working on a way to file returns from home computers by next tax season.
If the return already has been sent, check on its status by calling the Refund Info Line at (800) 829-4477. Be sure to have a copy of the return in hand.
Postponing a filing means a late penalty, so always file even if the bill cant be paid. Use a 9465 form to set up a payment plan, which costs $43.
Remember to claim all tax credits, which include bills for child care, being elderly or disabled, or the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income households.
Sometimes a real live human being is needed to work through a return as the minutes tick away before deadline. The IRS has several help sites throughout Shelby County. Call (800) 829-1040 for the nearest help site.
Finally, between 5 p.m. and midnight tonight, the IRS will offer free tax help at the main branch of the Memphis Public Library at 1850 Peabody Ave.
Boone expects 3,000 to 4,000 to attend this session, so nobody will be alone in their misery.
"That is our biggest site statewide," Boone said.