tax tips — September 07, 2017

Tax Extensions Expire October 16

by Susannah McQuitty

Illustration of a man’s wristwatch.

Heads up to anyone who filed a tax extension back before April 18 this year: The deadline to file your 2016 tax return is October 16. Just consider this your glowing signal over the city, procrastinators. Your time has come.

Tax extension? Did I even file a tax extension?

Tax extensions aren’t automatic if you missed the April deadline: Taxpayers must actually notify the IRS that they’re taking the 6-month extension by filling out Form 4868 with their basic information (name, address, etc.) and whether they expect to owe tax or receive a refund. Form 4868 can be filed electronically or by mail.

If you filed a tax extension earlier this year, you would have gotten a confirmation email from your filing software or some form of confirmation from your tax preparer that your extension was accepted by the IRS.

If you didn’t file an extension, go ahead and file your return as soon as possible to stop any failure-to-file penalties.

The penalty for filing late is normally 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month after the due date in April, and if you’re more than 60 days late, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100 percent of the unpaid tax.

Illustration of a hand filling out a check.

Will I have to pay taxes all at once when I file my return in October?

Actually, a tax extension is an extension to file, not an extension to pay. That means that if you owe taxes, the payment was due in April, not October.

There is a failure-to-pay penalty of 0.5% percent of your unpaid taxes for each month after the April due date, but don’t worry: There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can’t pay all the taxes you owe at once, you can apply with the IRS to pay in installments as soon as you file your 2016 tax return.

Tax relief for disaster victims

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Texas and Louisiana who was affected by Harvey. There’s some relief for victims in the form of an extended deadline for your 2016 tax returns: Taxpayers in the officially designated federal disaster area who file an extension will have until January 31, 2018, to file individual or business tax returns.

For a list of the 18 counties currently in the federal disaster area, and all affected deadlines, check out the Tax Relief in Disaster Situations page on the IRS site.

There’s still plenty of time to get your taxes done before October 16 if you file with — we make the process quick and painless so that you can have your 2016 tax return filed in one sitting.

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