A crib sheet to filing your taxes last-minute

Brooke Niemeyer


Brooke Niemeyer

Brooke Niemeyer

Associate Director of Media Relations, Brooke Niemeyer

Brooke Niemeyer is a veteran journalist who has worked in all types of media, from print to broadcast, covering beats ranging from news and culture to sports to entertainment. She is currently the associate director of media relations at Policygenius and is a travel expert, particularly in the cruise sector. She is a former NBC reporter and her work has been featured on ABC News, CBS, USA Today, Inc. Magazine and more. She has shared her travel industry expertise in major outlets, including Forbes and Huffington Post. Brooke has an M.A. in Journalism, with an emphasis in urban reporting, from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @RNYBrooke.

Published April 9, 2018

Policygenius content follows strict guidelines for editorial accuracy and integrity. Learn about our

editorial standards

and how we make money.

News article image

Procrastinators rejoice! You get a couple extra days to file your taxes this year. Tax Day is April 17 — April 15 is a Sunday and April 16 is Washington D.C. Emancipation Day.

That’s the good news. The bad? That day is rapidly approaching and you’re running out of time. Here's a crib sheet for last-minute tax filers.

  1. Lower your tax liability while you still can. You can retroactively contribute to your individual retirement account and health savings account until April 17, which can lower your taxable income.

  2. Make sure you have everything together. Receipts, W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, last year's tax return, interest amounts, banking information for direct deposits and so on.

  3. Take it slow. Yes, you’re on a time crunch, but rushing makes small mistakes more likely, and they can lead to your tax return getting rejected by the IRS (and no one likes extra fees). Double check spellings, Social Security numbers, address, bank information, etc.

  4. Remember the health insurance mandate is still applicable for the 2017 tax year. If you had health insurance, make sure to check the box indicating so. If you don’t, you’ll get hit with a penalty of either 2.5% of your taxable income or $695, whichever is greater.

  5. Watch out for scammers. Tax season is full of ‘em, so don’t lose your refund to one. We've got a round up of old-school tax scams here.

  6. File electronically. Not only is it faster and easier, you won’t have to deal with the post office crowds. You can see your e-filing options here.

  7. Mailing your return? The Internal Revenue Service considers it on time if it’s correctly addressed, has enough postage and is postmarked by April 17. Still, this method can hold up your refund. Per the IRS, mailed returns can take six to eight weeks to process (versus the three weeks or less for electronically filed returns).

  8. Get that return receipt. If you’re mailing your return, it’s a good idea to send it using registered or certified mail so you know it’s received.

  9. Paying by check? Don’t attach it to your return — mail it in its own envelope, with a Form 1040-V Payment Voucher, with the check made payable to United States Treasury.

  10. File an extension. No way to get them done in time? File form Form 4868 by April 17 and you can get an extension so your return isn’t due until Oct. 15. But buyer beware: That extension only applies to your paperwork, so...

  11. Don’t pay late. If you owe the IRS money, you still have to pay by April 17, 2018, even if you have an extension to file your forms. Otherwise, you’ll also be paying the IRS a late penalty fee. (You can read more about filing for a tax extension here.)

  12. Think ahead. Don’t want to be up against the wire again a year from now? Put everything from this year in one place so you can easily reference when tax time rolls around next year.

Image: Kuzmichstudio