If you're one of the 13 million people who requested a six-month extension to file your tax return back in April, what the heck are you waiting for?
You return is due Monday October 17 (the deadline is actually October 15, but it falls on a Saturday this year). But that's your last chance. No more extensions. No more nuthin'.
Look, we get it: procrastination is human nature, especially when it comes to taxes.
And "if it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done," as author Rita Mae Brown famously said.
But it's officially last minute. So let's get this thing done.
Here are five last-minute tips to ease the tax pain.
Just File Already!
File your tax return, even if you don't have the money to pay the bill. The failure-to-file penalty is 5% per month of the unpaid tax liability, says Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax.
That could be a big charge, depending on what you owe. So at least get the darn return in. We'll worry about the payment in a bit.
If you were a recent victim of Hurricane Matthew, or even Hurricane Hermine earlier in the year, the IRS understands.
While there's been nothing formally stated yet, "we're expecting taxpayers in disaster areas probably will get some additional postponements," says Jackie Perlman, principal tax research analyst at H&R Block.
(Members of the Armed Forces also get extended deadlines, so read Publication 3 - Armed Forces' Tax Guide for more details.)
Small Biz Owners Can Still Fund Retirement Plans.
If you are a small business owner with a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA, you have until this Monday, October 17 to make a contribution for 2015, which is great.
Just be sure that when you hand that check to your fund administrator, it clearly notes that it is for 2015.
Other self-employed retirement plans are not so straightforward. "For instance if you have a solo 401(k) plan, part of it must be contributed by December 31 and part by the extended due date," says Perlman. So check out Publication 560 - Retirement Plans for Small Businesses for all the gory details.
As a reminder, 2015 contributions for most other plans, like a traditional or Roth IRA, were due by April 15, 2016.
Go on a Payment Plan.
If you requested an extension for your tax return, odds are good you owe money. If the government owes you and you waited this long to get it back, shame on you.
Now if you truly can't pay the bill, you have a two more options.
- You can pay with a credit card. While you may rack up some frequent flier miles, don't forget the wicked interest you will accrue if you don't pay your bill within the month.
- You can go on a payment plan with the IRS. You basically suggest an amount you can afford to pay and, in most instances, they will work with you. "They've gotten very liberal with this," says Perlman. So don't be afraid to apply.
Don't Rush and Leave Money on the Table.
Sure the clock may be ticking, but still ensure you're getting all the available credits and deductions. "Expenses like previous state tax liability paid, job search expenses, summer day camp and moving for a job can help save money on your return," says Greene-Lewis.
Fingers crossed you saved those receipts, so you can document all those expenses. And then keep them in a file with a hard copy of your tax return when it's complete.
So either bring a bottle of wine to your accountant as an apology for showing up so last minute or open it yourself and log on to your favorite tax preparation program.
Just settle in, and get it done.