Tax season can be stressful. Whether you filed early or you’re racing to meet the April 18 deadline, there are things to know to make the process easier.
As of March 24, the IRS has processed more than 80 million returns and issued more than 59 million refunds. And the average refund is around $2,900, compared with about $3,300 at the same point last season.
If you already think you’re a tax expert, try testing your knowledge with our 10-question quiz to see where you stand.
With the tax deadline approaching, CNBC spoke with financial experts about what to know if you still haven’t filed your return. Here is their No. 1 piece of advice.
You can file a tax extension for free
If you haven’t filed yet and you’re still missing key tax forms, experts suggest filing a free tax extension by the deadline, which provides another six months to file your federal return. (Your state may require a separate extension.)
“It’s better to go on extension and get the return accurately prepared than to file garbage,” said certified financial planner Marianela Collado, CEO of Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Florida, noting that missing details may delay the process.
It’s better to go on extension and get the return accurately prepared than to file garbage.Marianela ColladoCEO of Tobias Financial Advisors
However, you’ll still need to pay your balance by the original deadline to avoid racking up penalties and interest. The late payment penalty is 0.5% of your unpaid balance per month, capped at 25%, and interest is currently 7%.
Most people can get free help with federal tax returns
Stacy Miller, a Tampa, Florida-based CFP at Bright Investments, urges last-minute filers to consider IRS Free File, a partnership between the IRS and several private tax software companies that offers online guidance.
You may qualify for IRS Free File if your 2022 adjusted gross income was $73,000 or less, and you can find the best option based on your location, income and other factors with the agency’s lookup tool.
Although 70% of taxpayers qualified to use IRS Free File during the 2022 filing season, only 2% used it, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s annual report to Congress.
There’s still time to lower your bill
When it comes to last-minute tax strategies, the “toolbox of options is much smaller” once the tax year ends, according to John Loyd, a CFP and owner at The Wealth Planner in Fort Worth, Texas. He is also an enrolled agent.
Still, there may be a few moves worth considering, such as contributions to a pretax individual retirement account or deposits to a spousal IRA for 2022. But eligibility depends on your income and workplace retirement plan.
You may also claim a tax break by adding to your health savings account, or HSA, for 2022, assuming you had eligible high-deductible health insurance.