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6 Tips to Quickly File Your Taxes Before April's Deadline

Lisa Greene-Lewis

The tax deadline is April 18 this year, and it's right around the corner. That means that you only have a few days left to file your taxes. If you haven't filed yet, what are you waiting for? Last tax season, about 75 percent of taxpayers received a tax refund, with the average refund close to $2,800, according to the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS. Plus, the majority of taxpayers have already filed. If you think you owe taxes or need your refund as soon as possible, these six tips will help you meet the tax deadline quickly and save money on your taxes.

[See: Answers to 7 Burning Tax Questions.]

Get started. First things first: Gather all the materials you'll need to file your taxes. By now, you likely have all the forms you need to file. Take a few minutes to organize each document in a folder (or whatever system works for you), so that you have easy access to the information you need when you file your taxes.

Get the right forms. You will need forms that report your income, such as W-2 and 1099 forms, and receipts for tax-deductible expenses. If you can itemize your tax deductions, be sure to gather your receipts for tax-deductible expenses that you had during the year, like charitable contributions, unreimbursed employee expenses or job-search expenses. Additionally, filers with a student loan or college tuition expenses will need their 1098-E and 1098-T forms, respectively. Those who purchased health insurance through the health insurance marketplace will need their 1095-A.

[See: 7 Most-Missed Tax Deductions and Credits.]

Don't rush the details. The most important tip for entering information: Take your time. One of the most common mistakes taxpayers make when rushing to meet the tax deadline is gathering incorrect Social Security numbers for their children and spouses, and even misspelling their own names. Carefully gather your Social Security number, banking information (if you choose direct deposit) and your income information. Incorrectly inputting information is easy to avoid if you take your time and don't wait until the last minute.

Consider filing online. When you file online, a good tax preparation software will allow you to take a picture of your W-2 using your phone or tablet and automatically transfer your information to the correct forms. Not only will you avoid data entry, but you can finish filing more quickly and also be confident that your information has been entered accurately. No tax knowledge is necessary. Good tax software searches for the deductions and credits you may be eligible for, saving you time and money while making sure that you receive the refund you deserve based on your answers. With the tax deadline drawing near, filing online is a quick alternative to braving the long lines at a tax store.

E-file with direct deposit. If you expect to receive a tax refund this year, choosing e-file with direct deposit is a way to ensure that you get your money in your pocket sooner. The IRS expects to issue nine out of 10 federal tax refunds within 21 days or less of acceptance with e-file and direct deposit. You'll need to provide your bank account number and wait for your refund to be deposited. While you can still mail your tax return and request your refund, the bottom line here is that you'll receive your tax refund faster when you e-file with direct deposit.

[See: 10 Smart Ways to Spend Your Tax Refund.]

If you owe taxes, still file. Remember that going on extension only extends the time to file your taxes. If you owe, you are still required to pay what you owe. Even if you owe money, you can ask the IRS for an installment agreement when you file your taxes. The installment agreement will allow you to pay your tax debt over six years. Plus, you may have a tax refund coming once you identify the tax deductions and credits you may be eligible for.

Following these six tips will go a long way toward easing your mind as the tax deadline nears. Although Tax Day is quickly approaching, don't be intimidated. Now is the time to stop procrastinating and file.

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