By Johnny Jackson
Late tax-return filers should begin preparing their returns now to avoid the last-minute rush, said officials with the Internal Revenue Service.
"With less than a week before the April 15 income-tax filing deadline, millions of Georgians are rushing to complete their taxes and thousands more realize they're going to need more time," said IRS spokesman Mark Green.
Some taxpayers may be able to take advantage of late-season benefits made available through this year's federal stimulus package.
Green said while most of this year's federal stimulus package will affect next year's taxes, some homeowners may benefit from a first-time homeowner credit created through the stimulus.
Homeowners who purchase a home between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year, can get a first-time home buyer credit equal to 10 percent of the purchase price up to $8,000. Buyers can claim this credit on either their 2008 or 2009 federal tax return.
Green said all taxpayers should make sure they have the proper documents to file a tax return, including relevant Social Security numbers, and Forms W-2 and 1099. Those who own a home will also need Form 1098.
Filers should be sure their personal information and documents are accurate and true, Green said. He said inaccurate or missing information could delay potential refunds.
Those who cannot file by April 15 can request an extension with a Form 4868 application, which must be mailed or e-filed no later than April 15. The extension gives an automatic six additional months (until Oct. 15) for taxpayers to file their 2008 return.
Green advised taxpayers to file a return, regardless of their ability to pay owed taxes.
"Even if you can't pay the taxes you owe, you should file your return timely to avoid the late filing penalty," he said. "The late filing penalty (at 5 percent per month) is 10 times greater than the late payment penalty. Paying as much as you can with your return will help reduce interest and penalty charges."
Taxpayers can request to pay the remaining balance in monthly installments by submitting a Form 9465-Installment Agreement Request with their return or IRS notice of payment. For more information, call 1-800-829-1040, or visit the IRS web site.
On the net:
Internal Revenue Service: www.irs.gov