2015 Taxes Due Today! Last Minute Filers Guide

Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches
Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches

Tax day is here! And all taxpayers who waited to the last minute are having some form of panic attacks.  But don’t worry!  You are not going to jail if you don’t file your taxes on time, so take a deep breath, and here is your definitive guide to last minute tax filing:

The Deadline Is April 18th:  Due to special holidays, 2015 taxes are due April 18th this year.  So if you’ve already  resigned into thinking you missed the deadline you’re in luck!  Get your stuff together and head to an R&G Brenner location near you before it’s too late!

Not Ready?  File An Extension: If you are still scrambling to amass your documentation, expenses & deductions, don’t sweat and file an extension.  An extension will allow you more time to get your stuff together (or more time to procrastinate).  Either way, you’ll save money in unnecessary penalties and late filing fees.  However, be aware that filing for an extension to file your tax return is not an extension to pay your taxes due; you must send a rough estimate of what you think you will owe to the taxing authorities.  If you are unsure, overestimate; you will get an overpayment refund when you file your final tax return.  If you underestimate, you will be subject to interest charges on the amount you underpaid.  Even if you can’t pay your full amount of taxes due, send something even if it’s just $20.  This will prevent penalties and the taxing authorities will offer to put you on a payment plan.

Deadline & Extensions Are Only For Taxpayers who OWE:  This is the most common mistake that taxpayers make.  If you are due a refund, you have 3 years to file your tax return to claim that refund.   No extensions are necessary.  The deadline & extensions are only if you owe taxes and cannot file your final tax return by the deadline.  So if you are getting a refund, next year don’t scramble to file by the deadline.  You can simply wait one day after the deadline and you should be able to get an appointment of your choice and be able to sit with a tax professional pressure-free.  Just remember: If you do not file for a refund before the statute of limitations runs out (3 years), you refund(s) become the property of the US Government and/0r Taxing State.  That’s your money!  Don’t give it away.

Plan For Next Year: It’s hard to change one’s habits.  But technology is making it easier.  Almost everyone has a smart phone.  If you are in a cab, or taking a client to dinner, it is very easy to simply snap a photo of the receipts with your phone.  Same thing for when you get your income statements of K1’s. Keep all those photos in a folder and when it comes time doing your taxes—either by yourself or with a tax professional—you will have all the heavy lifting done already.  This will save you time and stress.

While most R&G Brenner professionals are fully booked in this late hour, many offices are keeping extended hours in anticipation of a rush of last minute filers.  If you can’t get an appointment with an R&G Brenner Tax Professional, just walk in and if you can’t meet with a tax pro on your schedule, just drop off your papers and we file them as soon as possible.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.  Happy Tax day and rememeber: “Saving you time and money is what we are all about”.

Benjamin K. Brenner
President

March 16th Corporate Tax Deadline Approaching

March 15th Corporate Deadline Approaches
March 16th Corporate Deadline

The Deadline to file corporate tax returns (forms 1120, 1120A, and 1120S) is Monday March 16th, 2015. Most corporate returns are required to be filed electronically therefore they must be sent to the IRS before midnight on the 16th.  If for some reason you are filing a paper corporate tax return, the post mark on the envelope must show 11:59pm or earlier in order to avoid late filing penalties.

If you require more time to file your corporate return, you can request a 6-month extension by filing federal Form 7004 and any corresponding state(s) extensions, however these too must be electronically filed or mailed before the March 16th Deadline.

If you require immediate assistance regarding filing your corporate return(s), contact an R&G Brenner professional before the deadline.

October 15 Tax Extension Deadline

Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches
Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches

The deadline to submit 2013 tax returns to the IRS for taxpayers who elected to file extensions is Wednesday, October 15th.  Failure to do so may result in the penalties and interest assessed on due taxes.  Please note, that if you did not file your taxes yet, and did not file for an extension, your taxes were due on April 15th and you are already accruing penalties and interest on any taxes due.

If you need assistance filing your tax return (whether on extension or not), please contact an R&G Brenner tax professional as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline.

What Are the Next Steps If I Missed the April 15th Deadline?

Did You Miss The Deadline?
Did You Miss The Deadline?

Tax season is always a stressful time of the year.  Regardless if someone files themselves or hires a professional, nobody relishes the thought of having to file their taxes. Most people manage to get their taxes filed before the deadline, but there are always some who cannot get their taxes filed on time and don’t file an extension. 

The April 15th deadline for filing taxes for the 2013 tax year has passed. This sounds serious, but don’t panic. While you may incur some penalties for failing to file on time, acting quickly can help ensure that they won’t be too severe. If you have extenuating circumstances that prevented you from filing your taxes on time, you may even be able to get your penalties abated. Here’s what you need to know for filing your taxes after the deadline:

Your Refund Will Be Unaffected

If you are getting a refund, don’t worry, it will be perfectly safe. Unclaimed refunds can only be forfeited after three years, but the IRS won’t impose any penalties on your refund if you file late. The worst that can happen is that you will receive a refund later than you would have if you had made the deadline, and the IRS does not pay interest.  There is nothing gained from having the IRS hold onto your refund, so if you are due a refund, file a tax return as soon as possible.

Penalties for Filing and Paying Late

The penalty for filing your taxes after the deadline is five percent of the unpaid tax bill for every month your tax return is late. These fines and penalties will not exceed 25 percent of your total bill, however. The penalty for failing to pay any taxes that you may owe is one-half of one percent of the unpaid balance.

If you owe taxes that you cannot pay, you should still file as soon as possible, and set up a payment plan to pay off what you owe in installments to minimize penalties. You can also pay a partial amount when you file to lower the balance—it’s a good idea to pay as much as you can. The important thing is that you make an effort and do your best to stick to any payment plan that you set up. Keep in mind that you will most likely need to fill out additional paperwork if you owe more than $50,000 and wish to pay in installments. The IRS will want to see financial statements to ensure that your payment plan is realistic.

Filing an Extension

While it is too late now to request an extension, for future reference you can receive a six-month extension of the tax deadline by filling out Form 4868. This will give you more time to file your taxes, but it won’t give you more time to pay any taxes that you may still owe. Still, it can help you avoid any penalties that come from filing late.

Whatever you do, you should never decide not to file or pay your taxes. You might be afraid of the penalties that come from missing the April 15 deadline, but the penalties for not filing at all are much worse. The most important thing is that you file, even if you file much later than the deadline. Your chances of getting into real legal or financial trouble become much greater the longer you wait to pay what you owe to the IRS.

Government Shutdown Closes IRS Centers

IRS Offices Closed, But You Still Need To Pay!
IRS Offices Closed, But You Still Need To Pay!

With the failure of congress to pass a budget, 800,000 thousand workers face furloughs and a million more are working without pay.   The IRS is one of the agencies that will be closed with walk-in IRS centers shuttered and IRS Call centers closed:

The good news first: no audits! The Internal Revenue Service is suspending all audit activities while the federal government is shut down.

And that’s pretty much it for good news.

Here’s the bad news: if you’re on extension, your 2012 federal income tax return is still due on October 15, 2013. And yes, the IRS will cash your check on time.

But the door doesn’t swing both ways. If you are due a refund, it will likely be delayed (the extent of the delay is largely dependent on the length of the shutdown).

Walk-in assistance centers for taxpayers will be closed. Similarly, the IRS will not pick up the phones: all telephone hotlines would be closed.

Hopefully the budget dispute will be resolved quickly, but we are entering unknown territory as this shutdown is very different from past shutdowns, mainly because zero appropriations bills have been passed in the interim.  In other words, Republicans & Democrats can not even agree to pass the things they agree on; like paying our military service members.  This will almost certainly extend the shutdown and the pain of taxpayers trying to process their tax returns and receive their refunds.  Judging from taxpayer comments here, the IRS has not been very much help in expediting refunds or explaining delays before the shutdown.  But even paltry service is  better than no service at all….isn’t it?

Source: Forbes

Last Minute Tax Tips

Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches
Tick-Tock, The Deadline Approaches

As the April 15th Deadline rapidly approaches, there are still hundreds of thousands of taxpayers expected to file the final week of the tax season.  The late start to the tax season and the fact that we are getting reports from clients that they still have not received all their tax documentation in order to file is making  this last minute crunch even more magnified.  Here are some last minuted tax-tips (even if you’ve filed already)

1) IRS E-mails: If you’ve received an email from the IRS relating to your refund or requesting taxpayer information, DON’T REPLY!  This is a common scam that thieves use to steal your identity.  Don’t even open the email if you can avoid doing so as some of these emails contain viruses or malware.  The IRS never initiates contact via E-mail.  If the IRS needs information from a taxpayer, they will send a formal notification via USPS mail on official letter head.  If you receive any suspicious communications you believe are scams via email, forward them to phishing@irs.gov.

2) April 15th Deadline: Many taxpayers don’t realize that the deadline for filing a tax return only applies to those that owe money to the government.  If you are due a refund the IRS allows you 4 years to file.  It is always best to file and receive your refund the year you are due it, as the IRS does not pay interest.  So, if you believe you are due a refund and you haven’t filed, have no fear, you’ve got plenty of time.  No need to wait on line to file before the deadline.  R&G Brenner has offices open after the tax season and throughout the year.  Even if you file a day after the deadline, you should have no wait time to see a professional.

3) Filing Extensions:  As stated above, if you are due a refund, you have 4 years to file your tax return and there is no need to file an extension.  However, if you believe you will owe the IRS/State(s) and have not received all of your tax documents or you are simply not ready to file, you should consider filing an extension.  Nevertheless, an extension for filing your tax return does not automatically grant you an extension to pay your taxes; the IRS still expects to be paid before the deadline.  If you cannot pay all that is due, simply send what you can.  The IRS will charge you interest on the balance due and you can set up a payment plan if you wish.  If you do not pay, not only with the IRS charge interest but also a late filing penalty.  The more money you owe, the steeper the penalty will be.  So, file on time, or file an extension.

4) File Yourself or Use A Tax Pro?:  The tax code is very complicated and littered with special credits & deductions.  Unless you are filing a very simple return, it is almost never a good idea to file your own taxes.  Simply put, even in this day and age, a computer questionnaire is not an adequate replacement for a professional.  Check out the True Cost of Doing Your Own Taxes.  On average, refunds using a Tax-Pro are $347-$841 HIGHER than Do-It-Yourself programs.  The time you save is just as valuable–if not more so–that the money you’d spend on a professional.

If you need help with any of the above, contact an R&G Brenner Tax Professional today, or call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15.

October 15 Extension Deadline Approaching

October 15th Extension Deadline

According to the IRS, over 11 million taxpayers who filed for an extension are due to submit their final tax return by October 15th.  Failure to do so can result in penalties and interest.  If you filed an extension, and have yet to file your final return, time is running out.  If you require assistance, R&G Brenner can help.  Please contact us here to schedule an appointment and/or to speak to a qualified R&G Brenner tax professional.

Below are a list supplied by the IRS of credits that are often over looked by tax filers:

  • Benefits for low-and moderate-income workers and families, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit. The special EITC Assistant can help taxpayers see if they’re eligible.
  • Savers credit, claimed on Form 8880 for low-and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k).

Call R&G Brenner toll-free (888) APRIL-15

What To Expect If You Filed Your Taxes Late

What Happens If I Filed Late?

This year, your federal income tax return was due on Tuesday, April 17. That’s because the usual deadline, April 15, fell on a Sunday, and a federal holiday, Emancipation Day, fell on April 16. If you didn’t file your return on time despite the extra two days, here’s what to expect. 

Interest and Penalties
When you file and pay your taxes late, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will charge you interest, compounded daily, on your unpaid tax. Interest accrues from the April 17 deadline until the date when you actually pay. The IRS’s annual interest rate on late payments is the federal short-term rate (currently 0%) plus 3%. The rate changes quarterly; taxpayers can find current rates at the IRS’s news release web page.

In addition to interest, you’ll be responsible for a late payment penalty of 0.5% plus a late filing penalty of 4.5%. Both penalties are charged on the amount of tax you owe for each month or partial month that you don’t pay your tax bill. The penalty maxes out at 47.5% – that’s 22.5% for filing late and 25% for paying late. The late filing penalty increases to 15% per month with a maximum of 75% for fraudulent failure to file.

The IRS will reduce or even eliminate the late filing and payment penalties if you can show “reasonable cause,” but the IRS may not interpret those words in the same way you would. Also, members of the armed forces who are currently serving in combat zones may qualify for an exception to the filing and payment deadlines. So will some taxpayers affected by recent natural disasters.

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about going to jail for filing or paying late or for making a mistake on your return. The IRS says it reserves criminal prosecution for “flagrant cases involving criminal violations of tax laws.”

Willful Neglect
If you don’t file a return, the IRS may prepare a return for you using the information it has about your income from W2s, 1099s and other forms it collects from third parties like your employer and financial institutions. An IRS-prepared return is unlikely to give you credit for all the deductions and exemptions you’re allowed, so an IRS-prepared return (also called a substitute return) is likely to result in your owing more tax than you were actually required to pay. If the IRS does file a substitute return, you’ll have the opportunity to correct it and receive the exemptions, credits and deductions you’re owed if you file your own return.

If you intentionally don’t pay your taxes or make any effort to pay them, the IRS can force you to pay them. It can levy your bank accounts, garnish your wages and/or seize your assets. It can also file liens against your assets, including your home. If you aren’t intentionally evading your tax liability but you can’t pay, your best bet is to file on time and work out a repayment plan with the IRS. Under such a plan, the IRS may lower your late payment penalty to 0.25% per month, and you won’t owe the late filing penalty of 4.5% per month.

What Is Considered on Time?
If you file your tax return electronically, your return transmission will have an electronic postmark. This electronic postmark determines whether you filed on time.

The IRS considers paper returns to be filed on time if they are “mailed in an envelope that is properly addressed, has enough postage and is postmarked by the due date.” If you use a private delivery service such as DHL, UPS or FedEx to send your tax return, the postmark date is considered to be “the date the private delivery service records in its database or marks on the mailing label.”

Tax Return Extensions
If you need more time to prepare your return, filing an automatic extension request is simple and straightforward. Filing form 4868 gives you an extra six months to prepare your return. Be aware that if you file an automatic extension, your filing deadline becomes October 15, not October 17. This extension does not, however, extend the amount of time you have to pay any tax you owe. 

If you need more time to pay and you owe $50,000 or less in combined taxes, penalties and interest, try using the IRS’s online payment agreement to automatically set up a payment plan. You can do this even before you receive any notices from the IRS. Another option is to request a payment agreement by filing form 9465-FS. If you’re having trouble paying your taxes because you lost your job or your self-employment income has declined by 25% or more, you might qualify for penalty relief and a six-month payment extension under the IRS’s Fresh Start program.

The Bottom Line
In the future, if you know you won’t be able to file your return on time, file an automatic extension using form 4868. You can do this online through the Free File link at IRS.gov, through a tax software program or through a professional R&G Brenner tax preparer. The form asks you to estimate your tax liability and pay what you think you will owe. Even if your estimate turns out to be incorrect, it could reduce any late payment penalties you might owe, and you won’t be subject to late filing penalties.

Source: Investopedia

What To Do If You Can’t Pay Your Taxes

If You Can't Pay IRS, Don't Panic
If You Can't Pay IRS, Don't Panic

It’s one of the worst tax time scenarios: You discover while doing your taxes — or you just know without even doing them —that you owe taxes, and you don’t have the cash. What should you do?

You may be tempted to ignore the problem. Don’t do it. The worst thing you can do is put off filing your return because you’re afraid of the bill. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) penalties for not filing are more punitive than the ones for not paying.

The failure-to-file penalty runs to 5.0 percent a month that your return is late, up to 25 percent, with a minimum penalty of $135. The failure-to-pay penalty is just a fraction of that, at 0.5 percent a month of the unpaid tax at April 17, and even that is cut in half for taxpayers who set up a formal installment plan with the IRS. Either way, you’ll also owe interest, currently at a modest 3.0 percent a year.

Consider the case of a taxpayer who owes $2,000 and won’t have the money until the end of June. If she files a return or an extension by April 17, the total penalties and interest due would be just $43…But if she puts off filing until June 30, and pays then, those penalties and interest would multiply to $314…The longer this taxpayer waits to file, the more those fees would balloon.

“That’s a lot of money for late filing,” says Allison Shipley, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Miami. “And, in my experience with clients who have had a difference with the IRS, they tend to be more lenient if you’ve always filed your returns on time.”

So the first step to consider if you’re not ready to file is the simplest: File for a six-month extension, using Form 4868. As long as you’ve paid 90 percent of the taxes you owe by April 17, you will not owe the late-payment penalty. You will, however, still owe interest on any unpaid taxes.

If you have the cash, but have run out of time to deal with the paperwork, you can send in an estimated amount to avoid some or all of that interest. Similarly, if you owe taxes, but can’t pay all that you owe, you could send in a partial payment to cut the interest and penalties due.

HARDSHIP BREAKS

The IRS does offer a few hardship breaks for cash-poor filers. The big one in effect this year is called Fresh Start, and lets those who were unemployed request a six-month extension to pay this year’s tax bill without being charged any penalties.

You would qualify if you did not have a job for 30 straight days in 2011 or in 2012 until April 17, or if you were self-employed and saw your income drop by at least 25 percent in 2011 due to the economy. You would file Form 1127, and automatically get until October 15 to pay. While you would get out of the penalties for six months, you would still owe interest.

Those who have survived a natural disaster or who are on active military duty may also qualify for penalty-free extensions for varying amounts of time.

FINDING THE CASH

If you are not in one of these special categories, and you owe more than you have, you may want to weigh your various options for finding the money you need. You could: (1) put your tax bill on your credit card; (2) Use a home-equity line of credit; (3) just pay late and swallow the penalties and interest; or (4) ask the IRS to accept a formal installment agreement.

While the standard advice is to pay the IRS first, that may not make sense this year. IRS rates are so low, compared to credit card rates, that it may make more sense to deal with the tax agency directly. A tax installment payment plan, even with penalties, costs around 6.0 percent a year.

“This is an interesting time for strategy because of those low rates,” says Larry McKoy, a certified public accountant at Dickson Hughes Goodman in Glen Allen, Virginia.

Not only is the average rate on credit cards currently 15 percent, according to CreditCard.com, but when you pay taxes on a credit card you also have to pay an added “convenience fee” that could add as much as 2.0 percent to your transaction. That’s because the IRS is prohibited from paying the interchange fees most retailers pay on card transactions.

If you have access to a home equity line of credit, it may be worth tapping that because the rate is likely lower and you do not have to worry about those taxes hanging over your head, says Gregg Wind, a certified public account with Wind & Stern in Los Angeles.

INSTALLMENT PLAN COMPEXITITES

There’s no hard-and-fast rule for when to do an installment plan, but the higher the amount [you] owe and the longer it will take you to pay it, the better off you are to request one rather than simply paying late. An installment plan will put your payments on a monthly schedule and cut your penalty on unpaid taxes in half, to 0.25 percent.

To set one up, you will file Form 9465 and pay an application fee of between $43 and $105, depending on your income level and whether you are willing to pay through automatic deductions from your checking account or paycheck…

The IRS can reject an installment agreement, but usually does not, unless filers owe an astronomical sum or request a overly lengthy payment period. In fact, acceptance is guaranteed if you owe less than $10,000, request a payment period of three years or less, you have paid all your taxes for the last five years and the “the IRS determines that you cannot pay the tax owed in full when it is due,” according to the IRS’s rules on installment agreements.

For larger tax liabilities, the process gets more complex, though there is a streamlined application process for those who owe no more than $50,000. Taxpayers who owe larger amounts must file Form 9465-FS.

“If it’s under $50,000 you are not going to be asked to file a lot of financial information,” says Wind. “A lot of people are overwhelmed by the thought of compiling a lot of financial information, but they don’t need to be.”

Better to fill out a few extra forms than get stuck paying 5 percent a month, every month, for not filing them.

If you need assistance or advice setting up a payment plan or filing any of the tax forms above, contact an R&G Brenner progressional today.

Source: Reuters