Filing taxes is one of humanity's most dreaded deeds, an endeavor so great that a large percentage of the population pay someone else to do it for them. If you're prepared, however, it can certainly be manageable. Here are some tips for 2013 tax year filing.
All Oklahomans required to file a federal return, even part year residents or non-residents who earned $1000 or more in Oklahoma, are required to file an Oklahoma State Income Tax return. The following tips and links will help guide you. And if you need help, be aware of free tax assistance programs in OKC.
Note: Information on this page is supplied as a resource only. To verify or for specific tax-related questions, contact a tax preparation specialist or the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Gather All Necessary Paperwork
The very first step is organization. You should have received all W-2s or other relevant income documentation by the 1st week of February or so. Make sure you have all receipts or expense documentation in front of you.
In addition, be sure to have the correct Oklahoma Tax Commission packet. If you're a resident, you'll need the 511 packet. The 511-NR is designated for non-residents. For business-related filing, check the corporate forms. Due to budget issues, the state no longer mails paper forms by request.
Decide Filing Method
Oklahoma allows several different filing options for state income taxes. You can file the traditional way using the paper forms in the topic above, or you can opt to file online. Online filing is available through several software developers working with the IRS. Free filing is available for Oklahoma residents that meet certain requirements, depending on the company.
You can also file through many popular tax software programs including TurboTax and H&R Block or have your taxes prepared.
Be Aware of Any Tax Changes
Most years, there are small changes to the tax code that may require you to do something differently. Be aware of them. For example, Oklahoma re-emphasized sales tax on internet purchases a few years ago. Typically, tax forms/software will inform you, so read carefully.
Areas of note in 2013 include:
- Tax credits for storm damage
- Two new education-related credits
- Refunds again will be issued by debit card rather than paper check
Check the Particulars
The devil is in the details, as they say, and that's certainly true when it comes to filing. First, check the simple things. Make sure all appropriate identifications are correct such as social security numbers and spelling. If you need to change your address with the Oklahoma Tax Commission, there are several ways to do so.
In addition, be sure of your filing status. If you're self-employed, you may need to pay estimated tax, and non-residents need to know all taxable sources of income.
Dig In and Start the Math
The tax packets have instructions to help guide you through the form, and compared to a federal return, the Oklahoma filing is quite simple. Nevertheless, be sure to watch a few key things.
- Round all amounts to nearest dollar.
- Make sure you have completed your federal return before your Oklahoma return.
- Read carefully the line by line instructions to take advantage of all possible credits.
- Keep track of all schedules and forms that must be sent along with your return.
Proofread, Photocopy and Submit
Once you finish the nuts and bolts, you're nearly ready to submit your return. First, go over it again very carefully. There's a lot that can overwhelm as you move through the first time, so proofreading is essential. You may find a crucial mistake.
After you're confident with it, make sure you sign it. Forgetting to sign a return is a common mistake and can cause all kinds of delays and problems.
It's also a good idea to photocopy all items you send to the OTC for your own records.
There are a couple of miscellaneous issues that you may encounter along the way. First, if you are not able to get your return in on time, you may be eligible for an extension. If so, you'll need to submit Form 504.
If you cannot afford to pay your tax bill, the OTC recommends paying as much as you can. You will then receive a bill with a minimum due. You can pay minimum payments once every 45 days 5 times to satisfy your amount due.