Thursday is the deadline to file 2014 personal income taxes. The almost-automatic extension of the April 15th due date to October 15th is up!
Our firm is still getting calls from people wanting to know if we can do their returns for them. We are happy to talk with potential new clients and see if we can do a quick turn-around… but, really!
We, like most CPA’s, want to be comfortable that we genuinely know the client’s financial situation so that we can prepare an accurate return that results in the lowest legal tax bill. We want to be able to look over the financial information, think, and ask questions that might uncover a deduction or better approach. Preparing your taxes is more than just taking the information you have and retyping it into our computer screens.
It’s unlikely during a busy deadline week that any CPA can meet a potential client with a complex financial situation, review the materials, and prepare a return. Still, you have to file a return or you’ll be “delinquent”, and may be assessed significant penalties and interest.
Don’t panic! What you have to do is simple:
File the best possible return you can yourself. You’ll probably save time and angst if you use a personal computer tax program like TurboTax or a program from H&R Block. (We don’t have a favorite or recommend an specific program.) If you have a complex return like most of our clients, you may find yourself making estimates or best guesses at what you’re supposed to do. Try as best as you can and make notes about the questions you had so you can go over the problem areas with a CPA later.
Pay what you owe! Niceties aside, the income tax system is meant to deliver money to the government, and that cash is really what the IRS and state care about. For this last-minute return, don’t make aggressive decisions about deductions or other rule interpretations, You could be penalized and charged interest if the IRS decides that your optimistic assumptions don’t fly.
Make an appointment NOW to see a tax professional next week to file an amended, 100% complete return. If you made a mistake in filling out the forms and you underpaid, filing an amended return quickly will minimize penalties and interest you’ll owe. If you overpaid, you’ll get your money back sooner.
Point 4, of course, is swear you won’t wait so long next year! Pulling together information for your tax return can give you insight into your overall financial situation. If you bring your financial data to a CPA when it’s not a deadline crunch moment, you can also have a conversation that may lead you to take tax-smart steps for the future.
Tax Season is over for us! The office will be closing at noon today and we’ll be back on Thursday, April 17th.
Our last phone call from a potential new client asking for tax preparation help came yesterday at 10:25 am. At least we hope that was the last call!
We couldn’t help the caller file the taxes by April 15th. They’d waited too long to pick a tax preparer and get their information to us.
Haven’t Filed — Here’s How to Avoid a Hefty Penalty
Yesterday, and for the past few days, we have been telling prospective clients to submit an extension request form to the IRS. That will give them until October 15th to formally file. We’ve also set up callers with appointments in our office later this week so they can give us their tax information.
But, whether you plan on getting professional tax help or do it yourself, file the automatic extension request today.
And, if you have a complex return we can help you with, please contact us Thursday after 8:30 am at 415.433.4500.
The IRS grants an automatic extension to file your tax forms, but the law requires that you pay what you owe by today. So, if you think you may have to pay the IRS this year, enclose a check to cover your estimated shortfall with the extension form.
Time’s up if you asked for an extension to file your taxes back in April. If you weren’t ready to file April 18th (April 15th was a holiday in some areas, so the deadline shifted to Monday), then this coming Monday is your new deadline.
This time, though, there are no extensions. You MUST file your 2010 taxes by Monday or your return will be delinquent.
(You don’t want the IRS to consider you delinquent. When your tax filing status goes delinquent, the Feds will charge you penalties and interest, and payment deals you’ve made with them in the past may be thrown out. The IRS does not have a sense of humor about tax payers going delinquent. They will suspect the worst of you, and they’ll act on their suspicions!)
Our firm is getting a flurry of last-minute calls from people panicked because they waited until now to file their return. Some of the callers are still waiting for information from partnerships or other sources of income, but most of the folks just put filing taxes out of their mind.
If you haven’t filed your 2010 taxes yet, here are our suggestions on what to do to make the deadline:
If you have a simple situation file online, maybe for free. If your return is simple, there are commerical and government sites that will do your taxes for free. See the Consumer Reports article from earlier this year… the links in it that I checked today are still working.
Most people who have waited until now to file, have more income and some complex things going on so that free filing is not available to them. The commerical services that offer free services to low-income filers, also have paid programs for people with complex returns.
Check out the commerical sites, and let them walk you through the return.
If you have a more complex situation and need automated resources, find a DVD of commerical 2010 tax software, and prepare the taxes on your computer.We haven’t formally tested any of the major programs, but from what we’ve seen, they do an excellent job in getting the math right, and they also have interview-like Q&A’s that will suggest deductions and other tax-saving measure.
The 2010 programs issued in the spring, still should be good. Make sure that you check for update to download any fixes they’ve discovered over the months!
If you want to meet with someone face-to-face to go over issues,call a Certified Public Accountant local to you. At this time, most CPA’s are offering most callers appointments after October 17th. Fortunately, you can book an appointment with a CPA for later in the month and still avoid being delinquent.
To avoid going delinquent, submit the best Form 1040 that you can by Monday. If you are missing hard data for a line, make your best estimate. You may find places to comment that what you’ve written down is your best estimate.
File your best tax estimate with the Federal and state authorities by October 17th. Then when you meet with the CPA, you will have them refile your completed taxes as an amended return. Even if you were significantly mistaken in your initial tax filing, you’ll be much better off than if you didn’t file at all.
Whatever you do between now an Monday night, don’t panic!
The IRS isn’t going to come for your retirement fund Tuesday morning because you failed to submit your return on Monday. You won’t need to run to a defense attorney or to Canada.
But, still… don’t go delinquent. You don’t have to!