Tax season is soon coming to an end.
On Saturday TODAY, Stephanie Ruhle — Senior Business Analyst for NBC News — shared some helpful tips that everyone should know before they file their taxes before the April 18 deadline this year.
"Remember, you have to file by next week," she said. "If you need an extension. That's OK, you can get a six-month extension, but you have to make sure you file for that extension by the deadline."
"You've got to get it done," Ruhle added. "They're most likely not going to push the deadline back like they did last year. So we want to make sure we get that done because I don't want you to pay fines, and penalties. It stinks."
Before you file your taxes, check out these common mistakes to avoid and these important changes that everyone needs to know.
The tax code has changed
What is a tax code? A tax code is a federal government document that lists the rules and regulations that people must follow in order to file their taxes.
Ruhle says that everyone should "pay very close attention" to the government's tax code because it has changed in recent years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
How should I handle the expanded Child Tax Credit?
One of the recent changes is the number of benefits that families will receive when they list their qualifying dependent children on their taxes, known as the Child Tax Credit.
In 2021, the American Rescue Plan, expanded the Child Tax Credit so a taxpayer can receive up to $3,600 per child for children under the age of six, per the IRS.
As for children ages 6 — 16, the amount has “increased from $2,000 to $3,000” and a taxpayer can also get “the $3,000 credit for 17-year-olds.”
However, if you opted to let the IRS give you half of your 2021 Child Tax Credit in monthly payments during the "second half" of 2021, then Ruhle says that you should expect your tax refund to be "a bit smaller" this year.
What about unemployment insurance?
Ruhle says that you should document any type of unemployment insurance you got over the past year in your taxes because you will have to pay taxes on that.
"In 2020, you didn't have to so that's a big change to be prepared for this year," she said.
However, there's one more important thing to take note of. Ruhle says that single taxpayers can claim a tax write-off of up to $300 for any charitable donations they may have given in 2021. If filing as a married couple, taxpayers can get up to $600.
Mistakes to avoid
Got a stimulus check from the government last year? If you did, then you have to put that on your taxes.
"If you got one back in March of last year, make sure you note it on your taxes. You don't have to pay additional tax on that, but it needs to be marked or if you should've gotten a stimulus check but it never came, you can also file to get a credit for that," Ruhle said.
When you're done with your taxes, make sure you look over everything twice! Although it sounds "silly," Ruhle says that "typos" can be the No. 1 reason why people get their tax return months later than expected.
"Make sure every name is spelled correctly" and "you have your Social Security right," she said.
"And lastly, go to irs.gov. there's a good chance you are eligible for free file," Ruhle said. "There's more guidance on there. Use the free resources if they're there for you."