Last minute tax tips

MISHAWAKA Some 20-25% of Americans wait until the last two weeks to file their taxes. The April 15th deadline is the same from year to year, but people still procrastinate for the same reasons.

"Some people are just procrastinators. I guess maybe all of us fall into that a little bit, they just don't get it done," said Chuck Bultinck, the office manager at the Indian Ridge H & R Block in Mishawaka. "They don't have all of their information. They are afraid that they owe, so they don't want to get it done."

If you are like a quarter of Americans who wait, here are the top tax tips from an IRS professional.

"If you can, use electronic filing," said Luis Garcia, with the IRS. "It's very safe, secure, it's very fast."

- There is less than a 1% chance of error online, compared to a 20% chance filing by paper with long-form.
- For refunds, filing electronically gets people money faster, in about 21 days, compared to 6 to 8 weeks filing long-hand.
- Be sure to sign the return, that is the most common mistake.
- Take advantage of all deductions. The most commonly missed deductions are the education credit and child care credits.
- For complicated returns, seek professional help to avoid last-minute mistakes that could be costly.
- Stay organized. The more time you give yourself to gather information, the more likely you are to get all deductions and avoid hurried errors.

"In Indiana, 82% of people get a refund. In Michigan, 78% of people get a refund," said Garcia. "The average return so far this year is $3,000."

If you need filing assistance, United Way is still offering free tax preparation for those who are income eligible. Dial 211 for help.

People who make under $58,000 a year can file for free online, at this website.

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