Pastors' tax break for housing under renewed fire
Don't make these tax filing mistakes

Tax procrastinators, the Oct. 15 final filing deadline countdown -- and tax tips to help you get there -- start today!

Hey there, you 11 million taxpayers who didn't file your return in April. Your time is almost up.

OK, not all of you are procrastinating until the absolute final Oct. 15 due date. You, like Mitt Romney, didn't need the full six months to finish your Form 1040.

But there still are plenty of you -- the Internal Revenue Service's official count is "many" -- are going down to the wire.

Why wait?

You didn't have all the forms you needed. You were worried about a particular tax claim. You just didn't want to mess with taxes back then.

7_Oct 15 seven day countdownWell, those excuses reasons won't hold up after next Monday. And that's just seven days away.

Don't miss it.

Deadline looming: You've got until midnight next Monday to submit your return electronically.

If you are still clinging to paper forms, your deadline is your post office's closing time. To be timely filed in the IRS' eyes, your envelope containing your tax return must be postmarked Oct. 15.

If you miss the deadline and didn't pay your full tax bill when you got your extension, then the IRS will be adding penalties and interest to your bill.

Of course, if you don't owe, no worries. Late-filing charges are based on your due tax and no debt, no added charges. Still, you need to get the forms to Uncle Sam. 

And if you're getting a refund, well what are you still waiting for? You won't get that money until the IRS gets your 1040.

To help you finish up your return, this post is the first of a week-long countdown to next Monday's filing deadline.

Each day until Oct. 15 -- and on that day, too -- you'll find a tax tip to help you finish your filing.

The tax clock is ticking -- literally over there in the left column -- so let's get started.

Gather your papers: To finish your filing, you'll need all the statements that you got, for the most part, earlier this year. These are, for the most part, W-2 and 1099 forms.

Don't overlook any of them. Remember, the IRS gets copies and it will be checking to ensure that you are reporting what the tax agency already knows.

And don't forget that some of the documents might be on your computer. A lot of employers, financial institutions and brokers have gone digital.

So check your email. But realize that that's just a first step.

The documents, such as earnings on a mutual fund or your mortgage lender's statement detailing the mortgage interest and property taxes paid on your behalf by that financial institution last year, won't likely be in your electronic mailbox. What you'll find is a notice (or two or ...) that the tax docs are ready for you to download.

Go to those websites this week (they might be closed today for the federal Columbus Day holiday) so that if you need help accessing them, someone will be around to help you do that.

Once you get all this info, then you're ready to plug the amounts into your 1040.

OK, that's a good final filing start. I'll see you here tomorrow with another tip on the countdown to Oct. 15.

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