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7 steps to consider as you prepare your tax return

Strategies » Get paperwork organized early, be aware of tax-law tweaks.



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Signing up for an installment agreement can cost from $43 to $120 in fees.

To find out whether you qualify, go to the IRS website’s online payment agreement portal: www.irs.gov/Individuals/Online-Payment-Agreement-Application .

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6. Keep tabs on your refund » If you are due a federal income tax refund, there are more options than sitting by your mailbox.

The IRS typically will issue refunds in less than 21 days. But if you can’t wait it out, you can check the status of your refund on IRS.gov, under the Where’s My Refund tool. The IRS also lets you check on your smartphone via an app dubbed IRS2Go.

7. Get more time to file » Not able to make the filing deadline? The IRS will grant you a six-month extension to file your tax forms, as long as you request by 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 15.

Filing for an extension doesn’t spare you from having to pay your tax bill by the deadline, however. And failing to do so means you’ll incur interest charges and fees on top of what you owe.

The IRS accepts extension requests three ways: by mail, via tax-preparation software, or online via the IRS website. To request the extension, you must fill out IRS Form 4868, which is available on the IRS website, through most tax preparation software, as well as in public libraries and post offices.




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