Filing Taxes Last Minute? What You Need to Know

Filing taxes at the last minute could cause costly mistakes. Learn how to avoid mistakes when filing you taxes close to the April deadline.
Written by Rob Sabo
Financial Expert
Managing Editor
Our methodology is designed to provide consumers with unbiased and comprehensive evaluations of various banking products. Visit our Editorial Policy page for more information.
A man's hands can be seen preparing his federal tax return at the last minute

If you find yourself scrambling to complete your tax return in the final few weeks of the tax season, you’re not alone – millions of Americans wait until the last minute to complete their returns, the Internal Revenue Service reports.

There are many reasons why it’s a good idea to complete your tax return early.

You can eliminate stress, better organize your paperwork, and potentially get a refund in time for a nice spring break vacation.

If you are up against the filing deadline, though, and still need to get your return completed, here’s a guide to last-minute tax filing that can help you cross the finish line and get your return submitted on time so you won’t have to request an extension.

Important Tax Filing and Deadline

Employees and employers alike have a lot of deadlines to meet during tax season. Here’s a rundown of when your 2022 taxes are due and other important tax-related dates for 2023.

January 22. The tax filing period starts, and the Internal Revenue Service begins accepting 2022 tax returns.

January 31. Employers must have employee W2s in the mail by this date to allow you enough time to get all your tax information in order prior to the mid-April deadline. Employers also must send out all Form 1099-NECs and various other 1099 forms to independent contractors and gig workers on or before Jan. 31.

April 18. This is both the 2022 filing deadline and the last day to complete a Form 4868 extension if you need more time to complete your return.

Need help paying your taxes? Learn about personal loans, including rates, fees, and more.

What If You Can’t File On Time?

Taxes are usually due each year by or on April 15 for taxpayers that file by the calendar year.

For 2023, the final deadline to file is April 18 since the 15th falls on a Saturday. If you can’t get your tax paperwork completed by the deadline, you’ll have to file an extension.

Filing a Form 4868 extension pushes the filing date out another six months.

You’ll have to have this document recorded on or before the final tax filing day of April 18, 2023. Even if you do file an extension, though, you’ll begin accruing interest and penalties on any taxes owed after the original April filing deadline passes.

October 16. This is the deadline to complete your 2022 tax return after filing an extension.

Quarterly Tax Payment Deadlines

Here are some other important tax-related deadlines for gig workers and independent contractors, who are required to make quarterly payments on their earned income.

January 16. Estimated tax payments are due for the fourth quarter of 2022.

April 18. Estimated tax payments are due for the first quarter of 2023.

June 15. Estimated tax payments are due for the second quarter of 2023.

September 15. Estimated tax payments are due for the third quarter of 2023.

January 15, 2024. Estimated tax payments are due for the fourth quarter of 2023.

Gig workers can use Form 1040-ES to determine their quarterly tax liability. You don’t have to be 100% exact in your quarterly payments – they are an estimation of how much you think you’ll earn over the year split into quarterly installments.

Don’t worry if you overpay – you can opt for a refund, or you can apply any overpayments to future quarterly tax payments.

If you underpay, you’ll owe when you complete your return, but you won’t be charged any penalties for failure to pay on a quarterly schedule. If you haven’t paid anything during the year, you can catch up on any taxes and interest owed when you complete your return.

If you can’t pay all the taxes you owe at once, you do have some options.

Getting Organized: 4 Steps to Simplify and Organize Your Tax Prep Documents

Tax prep and record-keeping can be an exercise in efficiency or a huge headache depending on how you go about it and how meticulous your receipt-tracking habits are throughout the year. 

Getting organized helps you or your tax preparer complete a more accurate tax return more quickly and efficiently. Following these four steps when you begin your tax return and throughout the year can greatly simplify the tax prep process.

Have a Dedicated Place for All Tax Docs

Always spend the extra few seconds it takes to put receipts, W2s, 1099s, and other important tax documentation in the same spot. The moment a W2 hits a cluttered counter it’s likely lost in the mix of mail and other assorted paperwork that eventually finds its way to the recycling bin.

Use Folders to Organize Your Tax Documents

Impress your tax preparer this year by bringing in all your relevant tax documentation separated into manilla folders.

Categorizing your tax paperwork speeds up the process of filing your return, and also leads to much better record-keeping habits. It could also save you money in tax preparation fees because it will be easier for your tax preparer to do them if they have all your documentation at their fingertips.

Comb Through Last Year’s Return

Everything your accountant needs to complete your return can be found in last year’s return. Independent contractors will need to get all of last year’s medical bills, office expenses, and other deductions in good order before beginning their returns since their tax preparers will need these numbers.

Create Lists for Each Month’s Expenses

Recreating the total cost of large monthly expenses such as cell phone, internet, and other deductions is near impossible to do at tax time.

Creating lists and updating them monthly for your various standard itemized deductions will help you better track these recurring expenses and lessen your stress levels at tax time.

Avoid These 5 Last-Minute Mistakes

Rushing rarely produces the best results.

Last-minute tax files can compound their stress exponentially by committing a blunder on their tax returns or in the information they provide to tax preparers.

Here are five common mistakes taxpayers make when filing their returns and how to avoid making them yourself:

Misspelled or Incorrect Name

The name on your tax return should be an exact match to the name on your social security card. Using shortened or altered versions of your first name could create a processing delay with the IRS.

Incorrect Social Security Number

Hitting the wrong key or writing down the wrong number when entering your Social Security number will definitely delay your return.

Bad Math

Rushing leads to errors or a lack of time to re-check computations. According to the IRS, math mistakes are among the most common errors on tax returns.

Double-check your math, or use tax prep software to ensure you get the numbers right.

Alternatively, you could let a financial professional complete your return.

Unsigned Forms

You have to sign your tax return to make it valid. Be sure to scratch your name or sign electronically before filing.

Incorrect Banking Information

If you don’t provide the correct routing and account information, you won’t get an electronic deposit and will have to wait weeks for a paper check.

Triple-check the banking information you submit to ensure the fastest return.

Other common mistakes taxpayers frequently make are miscalculating deductions and credits, entering the wrong types of information in the wrong places, and choosing the wrong filing status, the IRS reports.

As a last-minute tax filer, pay close attention to avoid committing these easy errors.

How to File Your Taxes at the Last Minute

There are three main options for getting your taxes done:

Fill Out and Mail in a Paper Return

You can find all the tax forms you need at your local library or simply download them. This is definitely the most time-consuming approach, as well as the one where last-minute tax filers are likely to make simple mistakes.

Use Tax Prep Software

There are many different tax software programs from which to choose.

These software providers offer a menu of paid options, such as helping with tax prep and conducting an official review of your return before submitting it.

The IRS also offers a free online filing program.

Visit an Account or Tax Prep Office

Taxpayers with complex returns are usually better served by engaging tax professionals to prepare their returns. The added cost is offset by simplicity and the preparer’s expertise with tax laws and regulations.

Options 2 and 3 both use electronic filing, but you’ll still leave a professional accountancy office with a folder containing your entire 2022 tax return in paper format if you choose option 3. 

Where to Get Help If You Need It

There are many ways you can get help preparing your taxes. 

The IRS has a helpline at 800-829-1040. It’s best for simple tax questions, and you may have a lengthy wait to speak with someone.

The IRS, along with the AARP, provides volunteers to help seniors prepare their tax returns.

You also can choose to work with a licensed tax preparer, which will greatly simplify the process of preparing and filing your return.

Lastly, you can find free help to prepare your return through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, but income restrictions apply.

About Author
Rob Sabo
Rob Sabo has been a Nevada-based business reporter for nearly two decades and full time freelance writer since 2017. He writes on a wide range of financial topics, including investing, taxation, personal finance and retirement planning.