Have you filed you 2014 tax return (or an extension) yet? The due date for filing your personal tax return (or an extension) is Wednesday, April 15.
Small business owners, self-employed individuals and anyone who owes the IRS money may wait until the last minute to file. But haste could lead to omitted income, transposed Social Security numbers and overlooked tax credits.
Here are some last-minute tips to avoid IRS inquiry and speed up your refund, if the federal government owes you money.
Remember to Sign and Date Your Return. If filing a joint tax return, make sure your spouse signs and dates the return, too. (Paid tax preparers also must sign tax returns.)
Check on Your Refund. After filing, you can’t speed up your refund, but you can find out about its status. Click here to use the IRS Where’s My Refund? tool to find out the status of your refund. You will need your Social Security Number or Tax ID Number, filing status and the refund amount.
Depending on whether the return was original or amended, and whether you filed on paper or electronically, you will likely get one of several responses:
- An acknowledgment that your return was received and is in process;
- The mailing or deposit date of your refund; or
- Notice of a problem, such as an undeliverable refund due to an incorrect address.
The IRS also offers a free mobile app called “IRS2Go” for your iPhone, iTouch or Android device. The app allows you to check the status of your federal income tax refund or request tax records using your smart device.
Need More Time? Get an Extension. Sometimes, it’s just not possible to gather your tax information and file by the due date. The IRS allows taxpayers to request an automatic six-month extension of the due date by filling out Form 4868. Click here for the form in a PDF document.
An extension gives you until October 15 and allows you to avoid incurring “failure to file” penalties. However, it only provides extra time to file, not to pay. Whatever tax you estimate is owed must still be sent by the April 15 due date of the return or you will incur penalties.
Fix an Error After Filing. What happens if you file your return and then find you overlooked something important? Depending on the error, you may need to amend your return. If the amendment involves an error in your favor, you may be eligible for a refund. Keep in mind that there are statute of limitation deadlines for amended returns. Ask your tax adviser for more information.
Be Aware of Another Deadline. April 15 is not only the deadline for your 2014 tax return. It’s also the deadline for the first quarterly estimated tax payment for 2015, if you are required to make one. (The due date for the second 2015 installment is June 15.)
Make checks payable to the United States Treasury, not the IRS. (Payments may also be due to your state tax agency.) Don’t staple payments to your estimated payment stubs. Include all relevant personal information on your check, including Social Security numbers, daytime phone numbers, tax years and tax form numbers (in this case, Form 1040-ES).
If you don’t pay enough estimated tax during the year, you may be liable for a tax penalty on top of the tax that is ultimately due. Fortunately, the tax law provides several “safe harbors” for avoiding an estimated tax penalty. No penalty is imposed if your annual payments equal at least:
- 90 percent of the current year’s tax liability; or
- 100 percent of the previous year’s tax liability (110 percent if your adjusted gross income for the prior year was over $150,000).
The penalty may also be avoided if you pay quarterly installments on an “annualized basis.” Ask us for more information.
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