IRS, preparation, your tax return — January 11, 2016

Time to Update Your Calendar

by Bob Williams

important 2016 tax dates

With the start of a new year comes a new income tax filing season. So here are a few key tax dates to plug into your smartphone – or if you prefer old school, pencil them in on that shiny new 2016 calendar.

January 19 – E-filing Begins

If you're chomping at the bit to get that refund, this is the biggie for you. The IRS will open the gates and start accepting e-filed returns on January 19. You can still do your taxes before then on, of course; we’ll hold onto your return, safe and sound, and send it when the IRS gives the signal. With filing out of the way, you can just sit back, relax and wait on that refund. That's all assuming you don't have to wait on a W-2 or other tax document, of course. If you do, read on.

January 31 (ish) – Getting Your W-2s

Your employer should send your W-2 to you by January 31, so you should receive it right around then, maybe in early February. If you still don’t have it by the middle of February, call your employer and ask for a duplicate.

No matter when you get your W-2, file as soon as you can. This helps put you in front of the scammers who want to get an income tax return with your Social Security Number accepted by the IRS before you can. There are other benefits to filing early.

First, if you owe any tax, you’ll learn about it sooner and have longer to pay it. Payments have to be made  by the April filing deadline (below). Even if you get an extension of time to file, the tax due date still stands. Second, when the IRS starts processing returns, it’s on a first-come, first-served basis. You want to be at the front of that line.

April 18 – Filing Deadline

Expecting April 15? Not this year. You see, April 15 falls on a Friday this year, which also happens to be the annual Emancipation Day holiday observed in Washington, D.C. So, for your 2015 income tax return, the filing deadline is Monday, April 18. (In Massachusetts and Maine, that day is Patriots Day, so those states have a filing deadline of Tuesday, April 19.)

October 17 – Filing Extension

If you get an extension, you have until October 17 to file your 2015 income tax return. As mentioned previously, remember that an extension gives you extra time to file your taxes, but not to pay them. Interest and penalties may be added to any overdue tax bill not paid by April 18.

So those are the big dates to remember for your taxes: January 19 for the beginning of e-filing, January 31 or so to get your W-2, April 18 for the regular filing deadline and to pay owed taxes, and October 17 to file if you get an extension.

Do your prep work now: gather your paperwork (and be on the lookout for those W-2s and 1099s) and you can be ready to pull the trigger on that income tax return when you get your documentation. And that will lead to a File Smile when that refund comes back!

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