View all Personal Finance articles

Last-Minute Tax Moves That Could Save You Money

The tax filing deadline is fast approaching, but there are still a few moves that could help you save money.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels

Most financial moves that can impact your taxes are set in stone come New Year's Day. However, there are a few last-minute moves that you can make up until the tax filing deadline, which is April 18 in 2022. See if you can use these to help lower your tax bill or increase your refund.

Contribute to Tax-Deferred Accounts

You may receive a tax deduction for your contributions to tax-advantaged accounts. While contributions to a 401(k) have to be made before the end of the year, the contribution deadline for individual retirement arrangements (IRAs) and health savings accounts (HSAs) is actually the tax filing deadline, in April.

Eligibility and contribution limits for either type of account can vary, so make sure you qualify before opening or adding more money to your account. If you qualify and make a contribution before April 18, you may be able to choose if you want the money to go toward the 2021 or 2022 tax year.

Low- to moderate-income households might also benefit from the saver's credit, which could lower your tax bill by up to 50% of your retirement account contributions (HSA contributions don't qualify). The saver's credit can be worth up to $1,000, or $2,000 if you're married and file jointly.

Look for and Claim Tax Deductions

A tax preparer or tax preparation software may ask you a series of questions to help identify which tax deductions you may be able to claim. Make sure you carefully answer these questions to avoid missing out.

You may want to be particularly mindful if you had a side gig or freelance work last year. Even if you didn't receive a 1099-NEC — companies and individuals aren't required to send you one if they didn't pay you over $600 — you still are a small business owner in the eyes of the IRS.

Being a business owner could help you qualify for various tax deductions, including some that you might not think of as a business expense. For example, you may be able to deduct the cost of your health insurance, dental and long-term care insurance premiums (up to your net income from self-employment) if you weren't eligible for insurance through your work or from your spouse's work.

Consider what other major life events happened last year, and research if they could impact your taxes. In some cases, hiring a tax accountant who has experience with people in similar situations could save you money.

Pay Your Taxes Even if You Get an Extension

If the tax deadline is creeping up and you're not going to be able to prepare and file your return, you can request an extension instead. It's a free option that can automatically push back your tax filing deadline to October 15.

While a tax extension can help you avoid a failure-to-file penalty, it doesn't extend how long you have to pay the taxes you owe. You'll still want to make an estimated payment, or you could have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty plus interest.

To save time, you may be able to automatically request an extension if you make your tax payment online.

Look Into for Free Tax Prep Options

If you're ready to file, you may be able to save money by using free tax preparation software or services. The IRS Free File programs tax preparation software to most taxpayers for free. There are different options to choose from, including software from well-known companies like TaxSlayer and TaxAct. The software includes free federal filing, and some of the options also come with free state tax return prep and filing.

You can also look into getting free help from an IRS-certified volunteer through the IRS's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. There are sites located across the country, but households may need to have an income of $58,000 or less to qualify.

Louis DeNicola

Louis DeNicola is a finance writer based in Oakland, California. He specializes in consumer credit, personal finance, and small business finance, and loves helping people find ways to save money. In addition to FICO, Louis works with a variety of financial services firms, credit bureaus, and educational websites, including LendingTree, Credit Karma, and Experian.