Tuesday, April 15 is almost here! If you haven’t filed, there’s no need to panic (yet). Here are some tips to help you file your taxes on time and correctly.

E-filing is always easier

Filing online really is easier and always faster. California’s Franchise Tax Board provides a free e-file service, CalFile.  Individuals who have an adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less can also file their federal income tax free using the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) FreeFile Alliance.

Claim your tax credits

One tax credit you don’t want to miss out on is the federal Earned Income Tax Credit. If you earned less than $51,567 in 2013 you may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $6,000.

Ask for help

If you have general questions about your California tax return, try live chatting with the Franchise Tax Board.  Need help with your federal taxes?  Check out the IRS help page for self-help resources.

If you’re unable to pay taxes

Even if you know you can’t pay your taxes, file anyway. If you skip filing you’ll have to pay penalties ten times the amount than if you file but don’t pay. The penalty for filing and not paying is 0.5% of your unpaid tax bill every month past April 15. Thus, pay as much of your tax bill as you can to reduce your penalty.

If you need an extension on your taxes

If you are simply unable to file your taxes by the April 15th deadline, fill out and mail in IRS Form 4868: Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Submitting this form grants you up to an additional 6 months to file. You can also file for an extension online.

Note: submitting an extension to file your taxes does NOT exempt you from paying your tax bill on time. Penalties still apply.

Don’t forget to sign and date

It sounds simple, but forgetting to sign and date your tax forms is one of the top mistakes, especially if you’re in a rush. Many of these mistakes can be avoided if you choose to e-file. Other common mistakes include:

  • wrong social security numbers;
  • math errors; and
  • entering withholding and estimated tax payments on the wrong line.