Here's what you need to know when filing taxes this year


It's everyone's favorite time of the year: tax filing season.

(Go ahead, groan before you keep reading.)

Starting Tuesday, both the Minnesota Department of Revenue and Internal Revenue Service are accepting and processing tax returns.

Here are some quick tips and "need-to-knows" to help make the tax return process as painless as possible.

The deadline

You have until April 15 to file your individual taxes – the return has to be postmarked or sent electronically on that date to be on time, TurboTax says.

You can file an extension, which gives you until Oct. 15. But to avoid penalties for late payment or interest, any additional taxes you owe still have to be paid by April 15.

You'll need a W-2 from an employer to file – but those don't have to be sent out until Jan. 31, so you may not have received it yet.

Of course, many of you won't be jumping on the filing train any time soon.

About 24 percent of all the expected tax filers in 2014 waited until the last week to submit their returns, the IRS said at the time.

Where and how to file

Taxes can be filed electronically, and sent that way. Or done on paper and mailed in.

Here's a list of websites or software where you can file online, via the state Department of Revenue. Here's a list from the IRS. It'll then let you submit both the state and federal returns, sometimes for a small fee.

To file on paper, you have to complete your federal return before filing the state return.

Here are the federal forms you'll need to print and mail in. Where you need to send it depends on the form, so click here to find out which one is correct for you.

Here are the Minnesota forms, which can be mailed to:

Minnesota Individual Income Tax
Mail Station 0010
St. Paul, MN 55145-0010

How about free filing?

A few of the online services offer free electronic filing for people who qualify.

Here's the IRS' list, here is Minnesota's list.

You can also get free help at a number of locations in Minnesota if one of the following is true: you're 60 years old or above, made less than $53,000, are disabled, or speak little to no English.

Click here for the site that helps you find a free help location.

Health care law

Maybe the biggest wrinkle for filers this year is the inclusion of health care coverage.

As the Financial Times explains, if you get health insurance through an employer, you'll only need to check a box.

If you signed up through a marketplace (such as MNsure), there will be a new form to fill out that is required for filing a federal tax return.

In addition, the Washington Times notes anyone without health insurance (who also didn't qualify for an exemption) will see a penalty – the minimum of which is $95.

Hey, where's my refund?

Like tracking packages you bought online, you can track your refund. (Here's a tip: Bookmark these pages for when you file, that way you can easily find them later.)

Click here for the status of a Minnesota return.

Click here to check for your federal refund.

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