The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2019 (taxes filed in 2020).
People have all sorts of reasons for waiting to file their taxes. But putting it off too long means running the risk of making errors or simply missing the deadline. It pays to be prepared, and to have a filing solution that takes the pressure off. Here are some tips that can help get you on track, even if you are a tax-time procrastinator.
Gather your documents and records
Chances are, you’ve already received the documents you need from your employers and financial institutions by the end of January. Once you have all your important documents handy, completing your return should be very straightforward. Begin with a checklist like this one: Tax Prep Checklist: Everything You Need to File Your Taxes
File by the deadline
To be considered “on time,” your tax return and any money you owe must be submitted (or postmarked) by midnight in your time zone on tax filing day. Typically, the deadline to file your federal tax return is April 15th. But if this date falls on a weekend or a government holiday, then tax payments and returns are due the following business day.
Know if you owe
If you have a tax bill instead of a refund, your payment is due by the tax filing deadline. Paying late means you will be charged a penalty and interest as well. If you put off filing because you need more time to pay your full tax liability, know that you can always apply for a payment plan with the IRS.
Avoid rushed mistakes
It’s easy to make a simple mistake when you are feeling pressured. Be sure that your personal information – like your name, Social Security number, and address – is correct when you submit your return. If you have filed with TaxSlayer in the past, it will be automatically filled in, so that’s one less thing you need to think about.
Choosing the right filing status is also important. If you have options, it’s a good idea to understand which status will offer you the biggest tax breaks. To learn more about filing status, read: What’s My Tax Return Filing Status?
Request more time
If you just can’t get your return completed by the deadline, you can request more time by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. If you do file an extension, it needs to be submitted by the IRS due date. Then, you will have an extra six months to complete your return as needed. Note that an extension to file your return does not mean you have extra time to pay your tax bill. Learn more about filing a tax extension.
What should I do if I miss the deadline?
If you missed the filing deadline, all is not lost. You should file as soon as possible, because the longer you wait, the longer it will take to get your refund (if you are expecting one). And if you owe money for your taxes, you’ll have to pay a failure-to-file penalty, plus compounding interest. The longer you wait, the more you will owe, so go ahead and file right away.
What happens if I don’t file my taxes?
If you had money withheld from your paychecks all year and you are expecting money back from the IRS, you must file a tax return to get your tax refund. If you miss the filing deadline, your refund will remain with the IRS until you do complete a return. If you have a tax bill and you don’t make your tax payment by the April due date, then you could owe a penalty and interest. Read also: What if I Didn’t Pay Taxes Last Year?
Ready to start and finish your tax return? File with TaxSlayer today.