April 15 Countdown & Last Minute Tax Tips

Tick Tock, TickTock...April 15th Deadline
Tick Tock, TickTock…April 15th Deadline

With the clock about to strike midnight on the 2013 Tax Year Filing season, the following is a quick list of tax tips for all you last minute filers out there:

April 15th Deadline

Yes, we all know the saying “Death & Taxes…”. And nothing drums up the cold sweats and association with taxes like the April 15th deadline. However, here is something that many taxpayers do not know: This deadline is only if you OWE taxes to the IRS.  If you are due a refund from the IRS, you actually have 3 full years from the April 15th deadline to claim and receive your refund before it becomes the property of the U.S. Government.  So, as long as you file your 2013 tax return by April 15th, 2017 you will get your refund.  There are of course, many reasons to file your 2013 tax return before the deadline.  It’s your money!  So don’t let the government hold on to it especially when they do not have to pay interest on it.  If you owe, and you do not have all of your tax documents ready, you can always file an extension.  Extensions must also be filed before the April 15th deadline.  REMEMBER: An extension is only an extension to file your final tax return, NOT to pay the taxes you owe.  Therefore, expect to send payment for the estimated amount of taxes you owe along with any extension.

Beware of IRS Scams

IRS & Tax related Scams have been steadily increasing over the last few years.  The most common scam going around is IRS impersonators contacting unsuspecting taxpayers and getting them to divulge their confidential personal information which can be used to open up credit cards in the victims name and/or to a file a fraudulent tax return in their name in order to steal refunds.  NOTE: The IRS will NEVER initiate contact with your via email, phone, fax or text.  They will always send you a written notification with instructions.  Even if you receive written communication, double check that the contact information on the letter matches the IRS contact information from the IRS website.  If you think that you are the target of a tax related scam, report it to phishing@irs.gov.

Sign Your Return & Mail To Correct Address

While this may sound trivial, many taxpayers forget to sign their tax returns!  Your tax return is technically not considered filed if it is not signed.  While the majority of tax returns are filed electronically, there are still many reasons why a return would be filed as paper.  Furthermore, if you had your return prepared by a professional, be sure that they signed the return as well.  While the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for what is listed on their return, a common scam that many “professionals” use to avoid any liability is to file a tax return as “self-prepared”.  In other words, the IRS thinks that the taxpayer prepared and filed the tax return themselves when in reality it was filed by a paid income tax preparer.  So be sure to check for all appropriate signatures!  Furthermore, be sure you are mailing your tax return to the right IRS processing center.  The IRS tends to change their mailing addresses annually and some  have separate mailing addresses for refunds and taxes due.  Here is a list of all the IRS tax processing centers.

Keep Your Tax Records

So you just sent in your taxes and now you can throw all of your W2s, 1099s, receipts & other tax related documentation into the fireplace, right?  WRONG! Depending on your situation, the IRS says to keep all of your tax records between 3 & 6 years.  So, just to be on the safe side, keep all of your tax records for at least 6 years.  Sometimes it could take years before the IRS notifies you with an issue and/or adjustment on your tax return.  If you plan on contesting changes in the IRS’ favor, you’ll need your backup documentation.  Recent budget cuts to the IRS will probably delay the notification process even more.

File With A Tax Professional

While millions of taxpayers are electing to forego using a tax professional in favor of filing themselves, the numbers don’t add up.  A couple of years ago R&G Brenner investigated The True Cost Of Preparing Your Own Tax Return and found that taxpayers who filed themselves were losing an average of $594 in refunds as opposed to using a Tax Professional.  Similarly, H&R Block is running ads this year that found 1 in 5 taxpayers who prepares their own taxes are not claiming all the deductions they are entitled to and are losing $490 in refunds.  Now there are many taxpayers who have very simple returns (standard deductions, no house, no kids, etc) and can easily file themselves.  However, the moment your tax return gets even a little bit complicated, you should seek professional help.  If you are going to Itemize Deductions (Schedule A), claim mortgage interest, have children (Earned Income Tax Credit), deduct business expenses (Schedule C), have rental income (Schedule E), or other complex tax positions, it is almost never a good idea to prepare your own tax return.

If you would like information about R&G Brenner, our services or if you need any tax assistance before or after the April 15th deadline, please feel free to contact us here, or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

April 17th Deadline To Claim 2008 Refunds

2008 Deadline Is This Sunday
2008 Deadline Is This Sunday

The deadline to file 2008 tax returns for unclaimed refunds, and 2011 tax returns with balances due for is Tuesday, April 17th.  The statute of limitations to file returns for refunds is 4 years.  Any refunds that are not claimed become the property of the IRS and/or State(s).  The IRS has over $1 Billion in unclaimed refunds averaging approximately $637.  The primary reason for the majority of these unclaimed refunds is that while many taxpayers were under the minimum earned income requirement to file, their employers still took taxes out of their paycheck; taxes that should have been refunded to them.

Therefore, if you did not file a 2008 tax return because you didn’t have to, you may have cost your self hundreds of your hard earned dollars.  Contact an R&G Brenner professional today so we can review your 2008 tax situation for free before the deadline.  We will help you file a 2008 if we find you are entitled to a refund.  Don’t let the government keep your money!

Happy April 15th! Last Minute Tax Tips

Well tax day is finally here!  It’s been a rough year for all american taxpayers due to the economic crises; including the employees and associates of R&G Brenner.  Therefore I would like to thank all R&G Brenner associates for their hard work, 12 hour work days and tireless efforts.  Without these experienced professionals, as well as all of our valued and loyal clients, R&G Brenner would not and could not be what it is today.  Thank you all.

Here are some last minute tips:

  • If you owe taxes and are mailing in your returns, be sure the envelopes are postmarked by 11:59pm on April 15th.  If they are not, you will be subject to late filing penalties and interest
  • If you owe taxes and need to file an extension because you are not ready to submit your returns, we can help you.  Remember, an extension does not preclude you from paying your taxes.  They must be sent along with the extension before 4/15
  • Be sure to put primary & secondary (if applicable) Social Security numbers on any checks sent as payments
  • Keep all personal return back up documentation of your deductions for a minimum of 7 years.  Keep all documentation for Business Tax Returns FOREVER.
  • If you have not filed a 2006 tax return, or plan on filing an amended 2006 tax return, they also must be submitted before 4/15.  Any 2006 return submitted after this date will not be accepted, and all potential refunds will be forfeited
  • If you are due a refund, no worries!  You have three years to file.  So don’t kill yourself trying to get your taxes filed by the 4/15 deadline
  • If you filed your taxes yourself R&G Brenner is offering a free review of your self-prepared tax returns.  If your return can be amended to your benefit, we will reduce your quoted fee by the retail amount you spent on your software.  This is especially pertinent for TurboTax filers as it has come to light that their program is miscalculating tax returns.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks again and see you next year!

Benjamin K. Brenner, PRESIDENT