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The End is Near! Your Federal Income Taxes are Due April 15th.

Updated on October 5, 2015
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What Type of Taxpayer are You?

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It's that time again. Taxes are now due!

Federal income tax returns are due April 15th.

Will you get your taxes filed in time?

As an income tax filer, which category do you fall into?

  • Procrastinator:

I know I should get them done, but I always put them off. I have everything, but I like to wait. When I used to have to mail my return to the IRS, I loved going to the post office just before midnight on April 15th to be part of the party. I don't ever plan on filing 1 minute before I have to.

  • Not Enough Time:

I have a complicated return, I own a business, and I have had some personal issues so I don't think I can file by April 15th. I need a little more time to get everything together to get it done.

  • Can't Pay the Bill:

I have completed my taxes, but I owe. I can't figure out how I am going to pay the bill by April 15th. What are my options?

  • Need to Make a Change:

My taxes are all done. I did them right away. My refund has come and gone. Maybe I did them too early. I received another 1099 that should have been included as part of my return. What do I do now?

  • Don't want a tax bill like that again:

I am all done. I filed my return and paid the taxes due but, I don't want to have to pay a bill like that again. What changes can I make now so that you don't owe next year?

  • Tax Star:

My taxes are done. My refund is safely in a savings account and I am well prepared for next year.

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If They Aren't Done, Do Them

You should have all of your forms by now. If your taxes aren't done yet, it is time to start thinking about doing them.

Here are the ways to file your taxes:

  • You can file the old fashion way. Download the forms you need from the IRS site, get out a pencil and calculator and do your tax return by hand.
  • The better, more reliable way, and the way preferred by the IRS, is to e-file your federal income tax return.
  • Hire a paid tax preparer or CPA to do your taxes for you.

The old fashion method, by hand, risks calculation errors and other mistakes. Plus, filing a paper return through the mail will greatly delay your refund.

Members of certain groups, such as the elderly and low income filers, may be able to have a volunteer prepare your return for you for free.

Paid tax preparers and CPAs can be well worth the money but, they do cost money and may not be necessary for all filers.

I Want to e-File:

So, how can you e-file your federal income tax return at a reasonable price (or ideally for free)?

  • Purchase tax preparation software from Amazon, Staples, Walmart, Best Buy or other retail outlet.
  • Participating software companies have made their tax preparation products available through the IRS website. Use of these products may be free if your Adjusted Gross Income is less than $57,000.
  • If you have a very basic return and are comfortable completing the tax forms on your own, you can use the IRS Free File Fillable Forms, on-line versions of the IRS paper forms. These forms will only do very basic calculations.

Note: These free products may not include state and local tax returns. You will have to go to other sites for these forms.

File For an Extension

If you need extra time to file your tax return, the IRS will give you an automatic extension of 6 months (4 months if you are out of the country) to file your tax return. All you have to do is file Form 4868. You can file Form 4868 electronically or by mail.

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The Catch 22

Form 4868 is used to file for an automatic extension for filing your tax return, it does NOT give you an extension to pay your taxes. For tax year 2012, to avoid penalties and interest, your taxes have to be paid by April 15, 2013. With an extension, you have until October 15, 2013 to file your return. I am not sure how you know how much to pay if you haven't filed your return.

If you know you are getting a refund, it would seem to me there would be even more motivation to get your taxes done sooner rather than later. If you are getting a refund, does the IRS really care if you ever file a return? (I believe the answer is yes they do.)

Pay Late, You Owe Interest and Penalties

If you owe taxes, paying after April 15th incurs penalties and interest on the taxes due. If you are due a refund, the government does not owe you interest on the money you waited to get back. The government only pays interest on a refund if they are responsible for delaying it, not because you delayed filing.

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Arrange a Payment Plan

You have filed your taxes and find out that you don't get a refund. In fact, you owe some more!. Well, you have several options.

  • You can afford to pay the entire amount you owe:

  1. Simply send a check or money order with your return if paper filing or send it in with a voucher if you e-filed. Be sure and put your social security number on the check or money order. You could save the check and stamp if you provide the IRS with your checking account number and bank routing number when you e-file your return. This authorizes the IRS to withdrawal the money directly from your account.

  2. Use the Federal Electronic Tax Payment System (FETPS) to pay your taxes over the internet or by phone. FETPS can be used to pay all taxes; income, estimated, employment and excise.
  3. Pay with a debit or charge card over the phone or, in some cases, with your e-file software provider. There is a fee involved for using the charge card. The fee can be as high as 3.93% of the amount being financed. Also, if you charge the taxes due, you may incur interest charges on your credit card balance from the day you make the payment.
  • You owe and you would like to make arrangements on your own:

  1. If you can't pay your taxes due immediately you could set up an installment agreement for monthly payments. You can apply on-line or by completing a Form 9465-FS and mailing it in. This arrangement may be associated with a set-up fee, interest, and penalties. Future refunds will be applied to any outstanding taxes you still owe.
  2. If you owe more than $50,000 you must call the IRS directly to arrange an installment agreement.
  • You owe and if you lived a 100 years you wouldn't be able to pay it all off:

  1. If financial hardship will prevent you from ever paying off the full amount of taxes you owe, you can make an Offer in Compromise to settle your debt for less than what you owe. The IRS may consider this offer if they feel it represents the most they can expect to collect from you in a reasonable period of time.
  2. You may have to seek the help of a professional to assist you in completing this process.

Fix or Change a Return Already Filed

Got an extra W-2 or 1099 after you filed? Forgot a deduction? It is not too late to fix your return. If you have already filed your return, you can amend it by filing a Form 1040-X. Do not file a Form 1040-X before you file your original return.

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To file a Form 1040-X, you will need a copy of the return you want to amend, including all forms, schedules and worksheets. You will also need the new forms you have received as well as any notices from the IRS regarding adjustments to the return.

In general, you have up until three years after the original return was due, including extensions, to file a Form 1040-X.

If the amended return results in additional taxes owed, you could also owe penalties and interest. An amended return could decrease or eliminate a refund you have already received. In this case, you would have to pay the money back plus a penalty.

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Prepare for Next Year

Now that you are done filing your tax return for this year, it is time to start preparing for next year.

  • Adjust your withholding or make estimated payments.

Owe additional tax, penalties, and interest with your tax return this year or get a big refund? You can change the federal tax withholding from your paycheck or pension. If you are self-employed, you should be making quarterly estimated tax payments. You can adjust your quarterly payments based on your anticipated business income for this year. You can even have tax withheld from your social security benefit (Yes, you may have to pay tax on your social security benefits.)

How to Adjust your Withholdings or make Estimated Payments:

  1. Fill out a new W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer to adjust the federal tax withheld from each of your paychecks.
  2. A W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request, can be filed to adjust the federal tax withheld from your social security benefit or unemployment compensation.
  3. A W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pensions and Annuities, can be filed to adjust the federal tax withheld from a pension, IRA, or annuity.
  4. Use Form 1040-ES to figure and pay estimated quarterly tax payments.


  • Start planning tax efficient strategies you can implement this year.

Check out the tax law changes for this year and try to prepare for next year's filing season. If possible, discuss appropriate strategies with your tax preparer, financial adviser, or accountant to help minimize this year's tax bill. Be proactive now to increase your refund later. Don't wait until the last minute.

Disclaimer

Any federal tax or tax planning information provided above or linked to this article is not meant to be specific to any particular individual or situation. Anyone who wishes to apply this information should first discuss it with an accountant or tax professional to determine its appropriateness or how it specifically applies to their unique situation.

© 2012 bankscottage

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    • bankscottage profile image
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      bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      SoManyPaths, sometimes taxes aren't very complicated. but, if the IRS overpaid you, it will only be a matter of time and they will come looking for their money.

      BlackandGoldJack, enjoy the Straub's. It may even make doing taxes enjoyable.

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      BLACKANDGOLDJACK 4 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      Yeah, it's getting to be that time again. bankscottage, I'm drinking a Straub American Amber, watching a baseball game on TV, and doing my taxes.

      Well SoManyPaths, you should give some of the money back then.

    • SoManyPaths profile image

      SoManyPaths 4 years ago from West Coast USA

      They are not so complicated. A new guy in the payroll department is thinking they overpaid me.

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Danateresa, thanks again for commenting. Again, I agree. They shouldn't be so complicated. I think people are afraid for two reasons. One, people are afraid they will get audited if they do it wrong. Second, there is the hope you will get a refund and the fear you won't. Worse yet, That you will owe money! The tax code is so complicated, it is almost impossible to estimate without a tax program or an accountant. Hope your taxes turned out well for you this year.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Don't worry. There will always be plenty of business for tax preparers. I don't know what it is about taxes that scare the crap out of people and turn therr brains to mush... Thank goodness there are people like you out there to help us through it!

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      DanaTeresa thanks for your comments. Despite it not being good for my business, turbotax is probably good for a lot of people. Unless you are Tim Geitner. The tax code needs to change. Average people should be able to do their taxes without a lot of help or fear.

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      One more thing... LOVE THE TITLE!!!!

    • DanaTeresa profile image

      Dana Strang 5 years ago from Ohio

      Nice job! You really make the whole income tax thing much less intimidating. I like how you lay out all of the options, and make them see doable! I think so many people just freak out and freeze or put it off because it too hard.... BTW - I am a total moron when it comes to finances and taxes. I use TurboTax. It cost money but it is well worth it because they walk you through every tiny detail and there are people available to help. It's a good start for a tax newbie.

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope your taxes are done.

    • Jenna Pope profile image

      Jenna Pope 5 years ago from Southern California

      Love your title!

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thanks for stopping by. You have a lot of great hubs yourself. I am trying to follow and learn from some of the best.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Wow, you know your stuff! Great info. I read your profile and hope to read more of your hubs about raising your kids, planning for retirement, and frugal living. I love writing on frugal living--and reading about it. I'll share this hub.

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      BLACKANDGOLDJACK 5 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      I used FreeTaxUSA for mine. Some window popped up when I was doing the FAFSA that said I should file so the info is accurate. I don't know why I picked that one. There were numerous ones to choose from. Anyway, it was really easy to use and I don't think it even took me a half hour.

      Is there any way beer is tax deductible?

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I think it is important that kids do their tax returns and learn how to do it (even if a parent does it for awhile for them). When you do your taxes, you understand how the government takes your money and can develop legal strategies to decrease you taxes. Go to the IRS website and find a site where it can be done for free. Click on the first link above. It will probably take less than 1 hour. Where else can she earn $17/hour? Don't give the government any more money than they are due. Even Warren Buffet doesn't give extra.

      How much Straub can you buy for $17? At the brewery, a case. I will be coming to Pgh next weekend to see my son and brother. I'd bring a case, but the delivery charge could be steep.

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      BLACKANDGOLDJACK 5 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      We should hear from the colleges on the FAFSA and other financial matters within a week or so.

      This hub reminds me that my daughter hasn't filed her tax return, and won't unless I do it for her. Not sure it's worth the bother to get back $17. How much of that Straub beer can you buy for $17?

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Ah yeah. FAFSA. There was a recent hub about student loan debt and I asked the question, "should parents cosign for student loans?' As one person commented on the question, you need to know your child. Also, you should have some idea of the financial return from the education.

      My son lives in Pgh and went to CCAC. Now, he, work and the GI bill are paying to continue his education. He is older and he has to fill out the FAFSA not me.

      Good luck to your daughter in college. I hope you had success with the FAFSA.

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      BLACKANDGOLDJACK 5 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      Yeah, the check will be in the mail on April 17. I'll probably glue the check to the envelope so they have a real tough time getting it out and cashing it. Sort of an April Fool's joke, you know.

      The reason I did mine early was because I was doing a FAFSA for my daughter who is attending college next year, and it just make it easier for the FAFSA to report the actual rather than the estimated.

    • bankscottage profile image
      Author

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Glad you did your taxes already. Even though they were done in January, you don't have to send the money due in until 4/17.

      Intaxicated. I like that. I would vote that up and funny if I could.

    • BLACKANDGOLDJACK profile image

      BLACKANDGOLDJACK 5 years ago from Blitzburgh area

      I did my taxes the end of January even though I owe the IRS. I must have been intaxicated.