3. Go electronic
Instead of standing in long lines at the post office, take advantage of the opportunity to file your returns electronically. According to the IRS, nearly 100 million taxpayers used the e-file option last year. You can use the IRS Free File system or ask your CPA to prepare and file your return electronically for you.
4. Talk to an expert
Speaking of CPAs, if you are running behind and don’t usually use a tax preparer, this may be the year to put a CPA’s expertise to work for you. A CPA can quickly tell you what paperwork you need and make sense of your tax situation, taking this burden off your shoulders.
5. Get it done
Know that if your return is late and you owe taxes, you could face interest and penalties that can really add up. If you don’t file a return at all, the IRS can assess tax based on the information it has—which may not include exemptions or deductions you deserve—and begin a collection process. Even if it will take a lot of effort to get your return done on time, it’s worth it.
6. Consider an extension
If you can’t file your return on time, you may be eligible for a six-month extension of the due date, but keep in mind that you still must properly estimate the amount you will owe and pay that amount by the regular deadline. If you don’t, you may be subject to interest and penalties. It may be possible to avoid a late payment penalty if you can show reasonable cause for missing the deadline. An automatic two-month extension to file a return and pay taxes is available to taxpayers who are out of the country on the normal due date because they reside overseas or they are on military duty outside the United States.
7. File even if you can’t pay
If you’ve been putting off filing because you don’t have the money you owe, don’t fail to send in your return. The IRS offers payment plans to eligible taxpayers who can’t pay their taxes all at once. If you’re not financially able to pay your tax debt immediately, you may qualify for an installment agreement that allows you to make payments over time. Your local CPA can help determine if you qualify for IRS payment plans and help you apply for one.
Your CPA can help
Whether you’re racing to finish your return or facing questions about other aspects of your financial life, be sure to turn to your local CPA. He or she can help you address all your critical financial concerns.
(To find a CPA in Pennsylvania by location or area of expertise, visit http://www.IneedaCPA.org.)