Last minute tax filer? Professor Stuart-Tuggle offers tips

Gracelyn-Stuart-SWith the April 15 deadline looming, many taxpayers may be rushing to file their federal income tax returns to avoid a penalty.

Professor Gracelyn Stuart-Tuggle, a certified public accountant who has been teaching accounting at Palm Beach State College for 25 years, shared some important changes for 2013 and tips.

“A lot of people don’t know that if you don’t owe, you don’t have to file by the 15th, and you don’t have to file for an extension. It’s the people who owe that have the major issue.”

Stuart-Tuggle noted that individuals who file for an extension still must pay estimated taxes owed by April 15. The extension helps avoid a failure to file penalty.

Stuart-Tuggle also offers these tips and reminders:

  • Individuals should remember to claim the Hope, American Opportunity and Lifelong Learning credits, all educational credits, if they qualify. “A tax credit represents money,’’ she said.
  • Individuals who are owed a refund but do not file a return to claim the money within three years lose it to the government because of a three-year statute of limitation.
  • The annual contributions to Roth and traditional IRAs have increased. Individuals have until April 15 to contribute up to $5,500 (a $500 increase over 2012) into these accounts. Those ages 50 and over can contribute up to $6,500. Contributions to a Roth IRA are not tax deductible.
  • For those who itemize, remember to include non-cash charitable contributions, including donations of clothing, household items and furnishings.

Stuart-Tuggle said she suspects there are varied reasons why individuals procrastinate on filing their taxes. “Some people just have a fear of dealing with the IRS. Some people are not organized and don’t have [all of their paperwork] together,’’ she said. “Keep a big envelope, write taxes on it and when items come in the mail drop them in there.”


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