How to save on your taxes and other last-minute tax tips

After an extended two-year deadline, tax filing is back in April — and fast approaching.

The pandemic delayed filing deadlines that extended into late spring or even summer. But this year, the filing date for most taxpayers is April 18, which is a little more than a week away.

Still, there are some things you can do to reduce your tax bill. Here are some steps to consider.

There’s still time to make and deduct contributions to a traditional individual retirement account for the 2021 tax year — if you qualify. IRA contributions for 2021 can be made up to the filing deadline — up to $6,000 for an individual and $7,000 for those 50 or older at the end of 2021. Your deduction may be limited, however, depending on your income and whether you have a workplace retirement plan.

People who are self-employed can take away much of their earnings by contributing to a simplified employee pension plan, or SEP IRA. The contribution limit for a SEP IRA for 2021 is 25% of your compensation or $58,000 — whichever is less. (You may have more time to contribute to a SEP IRA. If you get an extension until October 15 to file your tax return, you still have until then to contribute.)

The deadline for contributing to a Roth IRA for 2021 is also April 18 — but since you don’t get a tax deduction for depositing money in a Roth, it won’t reduce your tax bill.

You may be able to reduce your taxable income by contributing to a health savings account or HSA by the filing deadline. To be eligible, you must be covered by a health plan that meets specific criteria, such as a high deductible (at least $1,400 for an individual for 2021), Benefit Solutions at Conduit, a business services company said John Larson, vice president of

If you qualify, the contribution limit for 2021 is $3,600 for an individual and $7,200 for families. People 55 and older can contribute an additional $1,000.

If you had qualified health coverage for just a portion of 2021, the maximum you can contribute could be lower, said Rita Assaf, vice president of retirement at Fidelity Investments. For example, someone enrolled in a qualified health plan for six months can contribute up to $1,800—half the maximum.

But there is an option that lets you contribute more to your HSA, known as the “past month” rule, Assaf said. Here’s how it works: If you’re eligible to contribute to an HSA on the first day of the last month of the tax year — let’s say December 1, 2021 — you’re considered eligible for the entire year and you contribute to it. Can do more and more. But there’s a catch: You must keep your high-deductible health coverage for the next 12 months. If you lose qualified health coverage before the end of 2022, you will have to pay taxes and possibly a penalty on the additional contributions, the IRS says.

Money is contributed to an HSA tax-free. It is also tax-exempt when it is withdrawn to pay for qualified medical expenses and can be invested and exempt from federal taxes. The accounts pass to you if you change employers.

And for those of you who haven’t started calculating your taxes and now feel you can’t make it past the tax deadline, you can file for an automatic extension. This gives you time till October 15 to prepare and submit your return.

“If you don’t have the information to prepare a complete and accurate return, you may want to expand,” said Henry Grays, lead manager for tax practice and ethics at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

But file extension doesn’t give you much time to pay. So you have to make your best guess as to what you are owed and pay to the government by April 18.

Some people may worry that they cannot pay, so they do not submit returns. But that creates more problems, including penalties for failing to file, Grays said. He said you should file and pay, and then contact the IRS to discuss the installment plan with any remaining balances after your return is processed. To get an idea of ​​what you’re owed, he said, check last year’s return or, if you’re using tax software yourself, enter the information you have available to you to get a rough look, he said.

Why: How do I Find a Reputable Tax Preparer?

A: The Justice Department recently warned taxpayers to exercise caution when choosing a tax professional, noting that it has taken action against several unscrupulous preparers over the past year. Red flags include preparers asking you to sign a blank return or refusing to sign a return prepared by them (known as a “ghost” return), you need to sign it. Reviewing your return prior to filing or submitting your refund in this manner. is not clear to you. The IRS Provides Tips for Choosing a Preparer on Your Own IRS.gov. website on and provides a directory of credential preparers that can be searched by zip code.

Q: Where can I get free help for tax related questions?

A: The IRS is offering limited walk-in assistance at its Taxpayer Help Centers in several cities across the country on Saturday. The office will not prepare the return, but taxpayers can answer questions and receive guidance. details are here irs.gov/help/irs-face-to-face-saturday-help, In Seattle, walk-in assistance is planned for April 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to the IRS site.

Free tax preparation options include irs free file And this Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly Programs, You can search IRS.gov for locations.

Q: When is the estimated tax payment deadline before 2022?

A: If you are self-employed or otherwise need to pay estimated taxes quarterly, the first payment deadline is April 18. You can use Form 1040-ES to find out how much you owe.

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