April is here and the final rush is upon us. The following are some last minute tax tips to keep in mind for the end of this tax season and to prepare you for next tax season (tax year 2019). If you are still in need of professional tax help, please do not hesitate to call us toll free at (888) APRIL-15 or click the green bar to schedule an appointment. But hurry; the April 15th deadline is quickly approaching:
Know Your Withholding: One of the features of the new tax laws was a change in withholding tables resulting in reduced tax withholding for many W2 employees. While reduced withholding increases your weekly paycheck, it also reduces–or in some cases entirely eliminates–your expected refund. Please check with your employer’s accounts department to verify your withholding and make any preferred adjustments.
Extension Filings Are Up: We’ve seen a number of our clients taking a “wait-and-see” approach to these new tax law changes. As such, we’ve seen a large increase in the amount of extensions filed this year. If you haven’t filed yet & owe money to the government, you might want to consider filing an extension. Remember: An extension is only an extension to file your final tax return; it is not an extension to pay the taxes you owe. An estimate of taxes due is sent along with your extension by the deadline.
IRS Filings Are Down: The number of returns submitted to the IRS is down about 2% compared to last year. 2018 was the busiest April R&G Brenner has ever had. We expect an even busier final 2 weeks this year.
Tax Filing Deadline: To make matters worse, the past couple of years we’ve had a couple of extra days to file. Not this year: the final day to file is April 15th. Tax returns must be electronically filed or postmarked by 11:59 pm on 4/15 or you will be subjected to penalties and interest. Remember: This deadline is only if you owe. If you are due a refund you have 3 more years to claim your 2018 refund.
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”.
As the the clock approaches midnight on the 2015 tax season, many taxpayers still haven’t filed their tax return yet. While procrastination is common for many when it come to filing taxes, this year we are seeing a higher number of last minute filers. The winter was brutal on the east coast; extreme cold & snow produced more tax hibernators than in years past. Wage documents like W2s & 1099s were issued extremely late (And when they were finally issued, many were issued incorrectly), and the uncertainty around reporting health insurance on tax returns for the first time has produced even more confusion. But have no fear! There is still time to tackle your individual tax situation. And even if you already filed, below is a definitive list of last minute tax tips everyone should be aware of:
The April 15th Deadline? Only If You Owe!
Many taxpayers know the deadline is April 15th, but the majority of taxpayers do not know that the deadline only applies to those that owe money to taxing authorities. If you are expecting a refund, you have an additional 3 years to file or amend a filed 2014 tax return. No extension is necessary to file if you are expecting a refund. Again, extensions must be filed by the deadline only for those that owe taxes, but are not ready to file their final tax return. However, an extension is only an extension to file a final tax return, NOT to pay your taxes. If you are filing an extension, you must send your tax payment along with it. If you do not know your final tax liability, overestimate. Any overpayment will be refunded to you or applied to future tax liabilities. Any underestimated taxes are subject to penalties & interest that are not paid by the deadline.
Lower Your Tax Bill Even More
Even with the deadline approaching, you can still reduce your tax liability by making contributions to the following:
Contribute to you IRA
Contribute to your 401(k)
Contribute to your Health Savings Account (HSA)
Contributing to any of these accounts (or opening a new account) before filing your tax return will reduce the taxes you owe. However, each contribution has limits, so consult your tax professional or financial advisor to find out what those limits are. These contributions must be made before you file your final tax return (filing an tax extension also allows you to contribute later as well).
Last Call For 2011 Tax Returns
As stated above, taxpayers have 3 years to file or amend tax returns if they are due refunds. This year’s April 15th deadline will be the final day taxpayers can file or amend a 2011 tax return. The IRS has over $1 Billion in unclaimed refunds for those that have not filed a 2011 tax return. According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “People could be missing out on a substantial refund, especially students or part-time workers. Some people may not have filed because they didn’t make much money, but they may still be entitled to a refund.” Most of these taxpayers fall into the category where they did not break the threshold in dollars earned requiring them to file a tax return. However, taxes were withheld from their paychecks, and that money should be refunded. Any 2011 refund not claimed become the properly of the U.S. Government. Half of the uncollected refunds for 2011 tax returns exceed $698! This is your money. Don’t let the Government keep it!
Health Insurance Subsidies
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has drastically reduced the number of insured since going into effect in 2014. Subsidies to off-set the cost of insurance is a major reason why. However, many taxpayers this year were shocked to see that their refunds were significantly reduced from years past. This is because ACA subsidies are calculated using an estimate of a taxpayer’s yearly income. If you get a promotion mid-year, a newer higher paying job or simply just underestimate you annual income, you may no longer qualify for the subsidy you’ve already received…and “they” want it back. Therefore, if you’ve received a subsidy this year for health insurance acquired on the exchanges, it is important to report any significant differences in estimated income to your health insurance provider and/or broker. While you may have to pay a higher monthly premium, you won’t have any surprises come tax time.
Where’s My Refund?
So you filed your return. Now “Where’s my Refund”?. This is a question that’s hard to answer specifically. In general, the earlier you file, the better chance you have of getting your refund in the IRS’ allotted time: approximately 2-3 weeks if you’ve electronically filed (even faster if you opted for a direct deposit) and 6-8 weeks if you filed a paper tax return. However, many factors can delay your refund. First and foremost, before you start trying to track down your refund, be sure that your return was filed and accepted by the IRS. Click here to check the status for your return on line. If you filed your return late (between late March & the April 15th deadline) expect to tack on about a week or so. The IRS’ budget has been slashed and they are grossly understaffed. If you need to speak to an IRS agent, good luck. The IRS is only able to answer about 60% of the calls made to the agency. The rest either get tired of waiting for hours or get a “Courtesy Disconnect” (i.e. being hung up on). The key is not to give up. If you keep pestering the IRS, eventually you will make progress. Remember, many states (including NY) have been issuing “pre-refund letters” for the last 4-5 years. Sometimes they ask for something as simple as a copy of your W-2; information they are supposed to have already! These letters are simply designed to delay your refund, they are not “Audits”. If you get one of these “pre-refund letters”, address them immediately. The sooner you send them the information they are requesting (no matter how trivial or ridiculous) the sooner you can get your refund “they” are collecting interest on (and they keep that interest) .
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 email@example.com.
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.
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).
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.
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.
CORONAVIRUS ALERT: As of April 16th, business hours are 9am-5pm: Monday-Friday. In-person appointments have been suspended until further notice. We are currently accepting Drop-offs or these other remote client filing options.
Special Promotions For You
Don't Miss These Promotions!
Get Our App, Get $10
Download our new mobile app and get a $10 credit on your tax preparation fee.
Client Cash Rewards
Get $50 CASH for every new client you refer to R&G Brenner.