It’s that wonderful time of the year once again where despite all the best intentions in the world, millions are still to file their 1040 tax returns and are starting to feel the pressure. It’s also the time of year when experts are being inundated with calls and frantic visits from those fearing the worst and sensing a taste of doom in the air, but the good news is that the time to panic isn’t quite here yet.
It’s close, but not quite here.
With a level head and a few last-minute tips, there really is plenty of time left to get everything in order and rule out having to greet the spring with a hefty fine to pay and a less favorable opinion of Uncle Sam.
Give thought to the following and chances are you’ll be golden – as long as you don’t stall any longer:
Request an Extension
If it’s beginning to look as though there’s no chance in hell that you’ll get everything sorted by the April 15th deadline, now’s the time to apply for an extension. If approved, this will mean you’ve then got an additional six months of breathing room and won’t need to get your return in until October.
It’s pretty easy to do – just take a trip to and look for Form 4868 to set the wheels in motion. Be warned though – it isn’t guaranteed that your application will be accepted depending on the circumstances and an extension in your tax return deadline does NOT mean a delay in your taxes – you must still pay what you owe before April 15th.
Failure to File
Of all the penalties you might end up facing at this delightful juncture of the year, one of the more painful examples is Failure to File. The penalty can amount to an eye-watering 25% of the total tax balance owed on top of the rest of the payment, which is a very, very good reason to think about either getting things in on time or doing as the above advises and filing a request for an extension.
In addition, last year saw the IRS announce that the dreaded Failure to Pay penalty would for some people in certain situations be waved, which amounted to savings as high as 0.5% in penalty charges for every month. They haven’t yet confirmed whether or not the same will carry over to this year, but if in dire straits it might be worth giving them a call and asking about your own case.
For a myriad of equally genuine reasons it is always best to go about the filing of your tax returns online – especially when doing so at such a late stage. 99% of online submissions are accepted as complete and accurate as they’re pretty hard to get wrong, while up to 20% of paper submissions are returned – you don’t want to have to try again when you’re already running out of time.
If insistent on braving the massive queues in post offices closer to the day itself, do yourself a favor and remember that this is a pretty important time to find out exactly how late the post office you’re planning on using is open and remember that by rights you have until midnight to get that all important postmark. And another thing, this isn’t a good time to be cheap on postage costs – pay as much as it takes to get it where it needs to be risk-free and fast.