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Tips for the Tax Filing Procrastinator

Posted: March 24, 2016 in Advice & Tips, Education, Everyone, Ideas & Info for:, Parents, Students, Teachers, Topics, Your Money

Here’s some good news for all you tax filing procrastinators out there: Tax Day has been pushed back three days this year.

No joke—because Emancipation Day is being observed on Friday, April 15 this year, Tax Day has been moved to the following Monday, April 18.

So what will you do with these three extra days? That depends on your level of procrastination, of course. Here are the three most important things to consider if you’re filing your taxes at the eleventh hour:

  1. Do you owe money to the IRS or does the IRS owe you a refund?

If you don’t owe any money to the state or Federal government, then the April 18 deadline doesn’t apply to you. Yes, you heard that right. You will not incur a late filing penalty on your taxes if you’re owed a refund, so take a deep breath and stop stressing out. BUT (and this is important for people prone to procrastination) the longer you wait to file your taxes, the longer it will take to receive your refund. On top of that, you run the risk of becoming a victim of tax fraud the longer you wait to file, which is why we suggest filing as soon as you can. (If you file your taxes early, a fraudster can’t do it before you.)

  1. File an extension / Ask for payment installment plan

If you do owe the IRS money, you will incur late filing penalties on that amount unless you file for an extension. Even if you file for an extension, you will incur late payment penalties unless you pay at least 90 percent of your tax liability by April 18. Luckily, the process is fairly easy—fill out Form 4868 online or by mail and your new deadline will automatically be extended to October 17. Also, if you file on time but don’t think you’ll be able to pay the owed balance by the original deadline, you can request a short-term extension to pay the balance due or request an installment payment plan. This process requires a request be made by the deadline (check to see if your state requires a separate extension), but will give you time to get your finances in order.

  1. Don’t rush

The worst thing to do is try to beat the deadline without filing for an extension. Chances are you’ll overlook critical deductions and credits that may lower the amount you owe or increase your refund. There are a slew of life events that can affect your tax situation (e.g., marriage, divorce, starting a business, having a baby, etc.) and it would be a shame to ignore them, especially when it means more money coming out of your pocket.

For more info on how to avoid penalties that come along with missed tax deadlines, visit our Block Talk blog. In order to prevent winning the two-time tax procrastinator award, check out this handy infographic to find out what forms you’ll need, along with a tax prep checklist for next year’s prompt filing.

4 thoughts on “Tips for the Tax Filing Procrastinator

  1. I finally have time to file my taxes tonight, so it seems like I should know a few of these tips considering how late I’ve procrastinated. You’re right about how I shouldn’t rush to get them filed. It seems like it can be easy to overlook something and file my taxes incorrectly if I rush through it, so I’ll try to be patient and take my time when working on them tonight. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I always recommend being organized and to document things well throughout the year. If you do this, when tax time comes around you will have most everything ready to go – you will just need to take your forms and information to your tax professional. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  3. I really like your tips about not rushing through your taxes. I needed this little reminder. Most years I get so busy, I kind of forget, and then have to hurry and get it done. Next year, I will be sure to start much earlier, so I can follow your tip, and not rush through them.

  4. I agree with your tip about not waiting too long to file your taxes even if you don’t owe the IRS any money because it could be easy to forget about if you don’t have a deadline. My husband and I always give ourselves a deadline for filing our taxes if we know for sure that we don’t owe the IRS anything. I will be sure to share this information with my husband since tax season is coming up soon.

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