This March 22, 2013, file photo, shows exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. Tax returns are due Wednesday.
This March 22, 2013, file photo, shows exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington. Tax returns are due Wednesday. less
Wednesday, today, is the deadline for filing personal income tax returns for both federal and state governments.
Done already? Waiting for a refund? There's an app for that at the Internal Revenue Service, which says it pays nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days.
But if you're part of the millions still trying to make the April 15 target and struggling to get done, there's always a way out: file for an automatic six-month extension.
"The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time," IRS advises on its website, www.irs.gov. is through the site's Free File link. In a matter of minutes, anyone can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868. Or, send in a paper version of Form 4868, or use tax-filing software. But there's a catch. You must estimate your tax liability on the form and pay the amount due.
To file for a New York state extension, search for Form IT-370, 2014, "Application for Automatic Six-Month Extension" for paper. Or go online to www.tax.ny.gov and fill in the "Apply for Extension" form.
The IRS said as of April 3, it had already received just over 99 million returns and issued more than 77 million refunds averaging over $2,800.
Scammers are active. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state's tax department had blocked 252,000 bogus refund claims last year that would have cost $450 million. Already this year, the department has stopped $331 million in fraudulent and erroneous refund claims and estimates that the total savings to taxpayers will exceed $500 million this year.
The state tax unit reviews each return using "sophisticated analytic technology to stop questionable refund claims," the announcement said. The Fraud Analysis and Selection Team monitors tax returns for fraud and for patterns in tax return data that indicate fraud schemes or identity theft.
The major new item on this year's federal returns is a line that asks about your health insurance, which is just a check-box if you have qualifying insurance. If not, there's some more paperwork and an "individual responsibility" penalty payment may be needed.
Refunds go faster if you're filing online, either yourself or with a paid preparer, the tax agencies say.
But, that's if everything goes right. For Michelle Quinn of Wappinger, 32, it didn't. She filed early to collect an $8,000 refund, using TurboTax software, and got worried when no refund came on time. She learned that her information had been hacked. a bank account and routing number had been changed and a criminal had diverted her refund to a bogus bank account — not hers.
"I still haven't
gotten my refund," she said Friday. "It's with the IRS now. I've been told so many different things, and different dates." She said she learned from an IRS investigator that the diverted money involved a person in Nigeria. "And he told me there were a lot of them," she added.
Her own research took her to several banks, TurboTax, tax agencies, police and others to track down her money.
The message there is to check on your refund and if it's clearly overdue, inquire further to see why.
Low-income wage earners should check to see of they qualify for a credit that can mean cash. "The earned income tax credit, or EITC, can be a great benefit for workers who don't make much money or to those who did work but then lost a job," said Kay Bell in a Bankrate.com article.
IRS tables show qualifying levels For example, a single person with one child could earn as much as $38,511 and the maximum credit is $3,305.
If you're mailing your tax returns and pushing the Wednesday deadline, here's some advice from George Flood at the U.S. Postal Service. Some offices are open later than 5 p.m. Closing is at 6 p.m. at Poughkeepsie and Fishkill. Closing is at 7 p.m. at Kingston. The window service at Poughkeepsie's main post office, however, ends at 5:30 p.m. though the lobby is open until 6 p.m. said Tom Mannini at that office.
Most returns take more than one stamp, Flood said. The cost of a one-ounce letter is 49 cents and 21 cents for each additional ounce. If you deliver at a staffed window, clerks can check weight and hand-cancel to ensure a valid postmark.
.Craig Wolf: 845-437-4815; firstname.lastname@example.org ; Twitter: @craigwolfPJ
All Internal Revenue Service instructions and forms are available online at www.irs.gov Phone 1-800-829-1040 if you get stuck, but wait times now are likely to be long. To check refunds, see "Where's My Refund?" online.
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance: www.tax.ny.gov Phone help is at 518-457-5181. To check refund, go to website and find "Check Your Refund."
Fastest way to get forms you need is to download them online. Instruction books are also online at both state and New York sites.
Don't forget the line that asks about health insurance. This one is new this year.
Be sure you have the right form. If you have issues that don't seem to go on the simpler forms, you may need to switch to the longer forms, 1040 for federal and IT-201 for state.
Low-income filers should see if they qualify for the earned-income tax credit.
Check to be sure you correctly transfer numbers from your worksheets.
Check all the math on any tables in worksheets. Then check math on the competed forms.
You must include Social Security numbers for children as well as filers.