Tax Tips for Last-Minute Filers

Time has run out for most people to file taxes for 2022, but these tax tips could help you file soon after the tax deadline and possibly keep more money in your pocket at the same time.

tax time written on stack of post it notes for last-minute tax tips
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tax Day has passed for most people. 31% of taxpayers reportedly file taxes at the last minute, but if you haven't yet, you can still complete your federal income tax return to avoid additional fees. Also, survey data show that most taxpayers don’t know when the last day to file taxes is for 2023. (It was April 18). So, if you fall into either of these groups (or both), here are a few tips for filing your taxes at (or after) the last minute. 

Tax Tip #1: File Even If You Missed the Tax Deadline

The tax deadline has passed for most people. (Some taxpayers in disaster areas have been granted an extension, but most taxpayers had to file their 2022 tax returns by midnight on April 18, 2023). If you didn't file on time, you could face a failure-to-file penalty. That penalty amount begins at 5% of your tax bill but can increase to $425 (if you still haven’t filed your return within 60 days after the tax deadline). So, you should file as soon as possible, even if you’re worried about what you owe. Waiting to file your return could cost you a lot more than if you file without making a full payment.

Tax Tip #2:  Easily File Taxes or File Taxes Without Paying

E-filing is the fastest way to get your tax return to the IRS. Many taxpayers can e-file for free. IRS Free File allows you to use certain tax preparation software at no cost if your adjusted gross income (AGI) wasn’t more than $73,000 for 2022. Some people can also file their state tax returns at no cost. You can use the IRS Free File online look-up tool to find free federal tax preparation software and determine which providers offer free state filing. 

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Also, if your AGI was more than $73,000 in 2022 you can still use IRS fillable forms at no charge. You can file online when using these forms. However, with IRS fillable forms, you won’t find guided step-by-step instructions like you would with most tax preparation software. (State tax filing is unavailable with fillable forms). 

Tax Tip #3:  See If You Have a Tax Extension

If you aren’t quite ready to file taxes yet, you can still avoid a failure-to-file penalty but only if you were granted a tax extension. You can view the IRS declared disaster areas to see if an automatic tax extension applies to you and when you need to file if it does. 

If you previously filed for a extension, and were not in a disaster area, you have until October 16, 2023 to file your return, but this does not mean you can wait that long to pay your taxes. You still had to pay your taxes by the April 18 deadline unless you were granted an automatic payment extension by the IRS. But you can still pay your taxes due this month to avoid additional interest penalties. 

Tax Tip #4:  Seek Help From a Tax Professional 

Consider enlisting help from a professional tax preparer. This is a good option when you don’t know how to handle your tax situation and when you want to ensure you pay as little tax (or receive the biggest refund, if you’re due one) as possible. Professionals can also provide valuable tax tips and answer any last-minute tax filing questions you might have.

There are qualified professionals who can help you prepare your tax return, like enrolled agents (licensed by the IRS), CPAs, and tax attorneys. Some tax software programs might also offer assistance from tax experts.

Tax Tip #5:  Maximize Tax Deductions 

Try not to rush so much that you forget to maximize tax deductions. You can potentially keep or put more money in your pocket by ensuring you take advantage of every tax deduction and tax credit that you qualify for. The best way to do this is to enlist the help of one of the professionals listed above. But you can also claim tax deductions and credits if you do your own taxes. However, keep in mind that many taxpayers miss out on money-saving tax deductions and credits because they don’t know they exist.

If you were granted an automatic payment extension by the IRS due to a disaster, you might be able to lower your tax bill even further by making contributions to your Health Savings Account (HSA) or traditional IRA if you haven’t already reached the maximum limits. You typically have until the tax deadline on April 18 to make contributions to your 2022 IRA or HSA accounts and claim the deduction on your 2022 tax return, but this deadline has been extended for some storm victims.

Katelyn Washington
Tax Writer

Katelyn has more than 6 years’ experience working in tax and finance. While she specializes in tax content, Katelyn has also written for digital publications on topics including insurance, retirement and financial planning and has had financial advice commissioned by national print publications. She believes that knowledge is the key to success and enjoys helping others reach their goals by providing content that educates and informs.