What if I Can’t Pay My Taxes? Top 7 Scary Tax Questions

Some people are excited for tax season, because it means a big refund is heading their way. But for others, tax time is scary. Maybe it’s the IRS. Maybe it’s feeling unprepared. Whatever the case, sometimes it just helps to identify what you’re afraid of. Here are some of the most common fearful questions surrounding tax filing – and how you can face them.  

What happens if I make a mistake?  

If you realize you’ve made a mistake entering your data while filing your taxes, you can file an amended return. You have up to three years after your original return was submitted to correct your errors and still receive your refund. If you think may owe taxes, it’s best to file your amendment before the tax filing deadline so you can pay the amount due on time and avoid. 

Not all mistakes require you to do anything. If you make a math error, for example, the IRS automatically corrects mistakes in your calculations.  

If you’re unsure about claiming your deductions and credits the right way, you don’t have to be. TaxSlayer’s e-filing program asks you questions about your personal situation to ensure that you get all the breaks you deserve. This is a part of the maximum refund guarantee. At the same time, you can’t accidentally take a credit or deduction for which you don’t qualify. See also 5 Myths About Filing Taxes Online   

What if I don’t have everything I need? 

Feeling unprepared can make anyone nervous. In that case, it’s useful to have a list of items you’ll need to have when you e-file. Have a look at our recommended tax filing checklist here.  

It might also help to simply review some of the basic tax vocabulary you’ll see when you e-file. Learning these essential tax terms is a good start.

You might also want to learn a little bit about the tax forms you’ll fill out. Read more about those here 

First time filing? Here’s what you need to know. 

What if I get audited? 

An audit is simply a review of your account to make sure the information you reported is correct and the amount of tax you paid was also correct. Just because you get audited doesn’t always mean there’s a problem.  

If your tax return is selected for an audit, it goes under review. It can still be accepted as correct, or it can be questioned. If the IRS decides an audit is required, they will notify you by mail. The actual audit could also be conducted through mail or through an in-person interview. Either way, the IRS will send you a written request for the exact documents they’ll need to see. They have up to three years to audit 

The length of the audit depends on a few factors: how complex your tax situation is, if you have the documents ready, and if you agree or disagree with the findings. It finishes up in one of three ways.  

1.) There could be no change and the return is accepted.  

2.) The IRS proposes a change and you agree to the change.  

3.) The IRS proposes a change and you disagree with it.  

 What if I owe a penalty? 

It’s important to understand why certain people receive tax penalties. The IRS requires that if you owe taxes, you must pay your bill by the tax deadline. If you don’t, you may have to pay a penalty. If you need more time to file your taxes but you don’t request more time from the IRS, you could also be penalized. If you’re scared to file your taxes, it’s probably tempting to put it off to the last minute. But submitting your return or requesting an extension by the tax filing deadline is very important to avoid being hit with a tax penalty.  

Read also: 5 Things to Know About Tax Penalties and Interest 

What if I don’t get a refund? 

If you suspect your refund will be smaller this year due to tax law changes or changes in your life situation, you don’t need to wait to file your tax return to find out. TaxSlayer’s Refund Estimator allows you to calculate your expected refund anytime. Get your refund estimate now. The result could affect your decision to save or spend as tax time approaches.

What if I can’t pay my tax bill?

If you owe the IRS money and worry you can’t afford to pay bill when it is due, you might be tempted to just not file a tax return. That is not the answer. The IRS could garnish your wages or take other actions against you to get what back what you owe. Yes, it is better to pay on time. But the IRS has payment plans available if you can’t. The best thing you can do is to get informed about your options and be proactive. Learn about the IRS payment plans here.

What if I don’t know how to file? 

You don’t have to be a tax expert to file your own taxes, and you don’t have to do it all on your own. TaxSlayer offers all customers a guided tax filing experience, so it’s simple to prepare, print, and e-file your basic forms. All products offer free email and live phone support, too, in case you have specific questions to answer. Certain products include additional options as well, like live chat, IRS audit assistance, and the ability to speak with a tax expert. For a list of support options and to compare TaxSlayer products, click here.

Get started today to get your maximum refund.

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