April 14, 1999
Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers
WASHINGTON - With Thursdays tax filing deadline
at hand, the Internal Revenue Service offered some tips for those still working on their
tax forms: -- Put your social security number on the return -- its no longer on the
label. -- Double-check your figures. -- Sign your form. -- Attach all required schedules.
-- And send your return or extension request to the IRS by April 15.
As usual, most people wont need this last-minute advice, because theyve
already filed. As of April 9, the IRS had received more than 76 million of the 126 million
returns it expects this calendar year.
Perhaps the most notable trend this year has been the strong growth in e-filing. The
IRS has received more than 21.1 million computer-filed returns -- nearly 24 percent more
than this time last year. Filings from home computer users have increased more than 150
percent, to almost 2 million. The e-filing total of 26.1 million -- including TeleFile
returns -- has already surpassed the record 24.6 million for all of last year.
The numbers to check most carefully on the tax return are the identification numbers
-- usually social security numbers (SSNs) -- for each person listed. This includes the
taxpayer, spouse, dependents, and persons listed in relation to claims for the child care
or earned income tax credits. Missing or incorrect SSNs can delay or reduce a tax refund.
Taxpayers should also check that they have correctly figured the refund or balance due and
have taken the right amount from the tax table.
The 1998 return has a new tax credit that has helped boost the average refund amount
by 15 percent, to $1,563. The child tax credit is up to $400 for each eligible dependent
under age 17. The total credit phases out as a persons income rises above $75,000
($110,000 on a joint return). Taxpayers eligible for this credit should both check the
qualifying child box on line 6c of the return and enter the credit amount on line 43 (line
28 on Form 1040A).
Two other new tax credits are based on tuition and fees paid for higher education.
The Hope credit is for the first two years of college only. The lifetime learning credit
is for any postsecondary education, but only for payments and courses after June 1998. The
education credits are not available for taxpayers with incomes above $50,000 ($100,000 for
joint returns), or for taxpayers whose filing status is married filing separately. An
education credit may be claimed only by the person who claims the student as a dependent,
or by the student if no one claims him or her as a dependent, regardless of who actually
paid the qualified expenses.
Taxpayers must sign and date their returns. Both spouses must sign a joint return,
even if only one had income. Anyone who is paid to prepare a return must also sign it.
The only attachments that should be at the front of the tax return are Form W-2 wage
statements, Form W-2G reports of gambling winnings, Form 1099-R pension or annuity
statements showing tax withheld, or Form 9465, requesting an installment payment plan. All
other required forms and schedules should be behind the Form 1040 or 1040A, in the
attachment sequence order listed in the upper right corner of each page.
People sending payments should make the checks out to United States
Treasury and should not attach the check to the tax return or to the Form 1040-V
payment voucher, if used. The check should include the taxpayers social security
number, daytime phone number, the tax year and the type of form filed.
Taxpayers should file a return or a Form 4868, to request a four-month extension, by
April 15. Those who dont e-file may use the U.S. Postal Service or one of the
designated private delivery services. The tax instructions list these private delivery
services, which are offered by four companies: Airborne Express, DHL Worldwide Express,
Federal Express and United Parcel Service.
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