ANSWERED: When Can You File Taxes?

The US tax schedule can be a bit overwhelming when you look at the entire table. There is good news though. If you have a fairly simple tax return to file, then there are only two big dates to be aware of: January 23 of every year is the day that the IRS E-file system starts accepting returns and April 15 of every year is the deadline to file taxes. 2017 is a special year because the deadline to file taxes is April. This year, April 15 is a Saturday which would normally kick the deadline to Monday, April 17. However, Washington DC celebrates Emancipation Day on April 17, so the deadline has been shifted further ahead to Tuesday, April 18. For most people, that’s all of the tax calendar that requires any attention.

Form Deadlines

Although it is possible to file your taxes in January, there are a lot of reasons why you probably won’t be able to. Employers aren’t required to send you a W-2 until January 31, and if you don’t receive it by that time, then it’s possible HR or Payroll will have another delay. The deadline for 1099 statements is February 1, so you may have to wait until then if you have non-employee compensation, bank interest, dividends, or distributions from a retirement plan.

Delaying you further into February is any income you made through the stock market, sale of real estate, or other miscellaneous items like rent or prize money. Financial institutions aren’t required to send those out until February 16. There’s a ton of stuff to wait around for!

Alternate Due Dates

There are a couple instances where April 18 will not be your deadline to file your taxes. You could file an extension instead, which would move your tax deadline to October 15 if approved. It’s important to note that you still need to file the extension by April 18, and that having an extension of your file date does not mean that you have an extension to pay your taxes. If you wait until October to file and pay, you will also owe interest and possibly late fees on the taxes you should have paid in April.

If you are filing taxes for an S Corporation or Partnership, your deadline to file taxes or an extension is March 15. This is a month earlier, but is designed to help these entities avoid double paying on their taxes. US Citizens who are living abroad have until June 15 to file their taxes or an extension. Leaving a combat zone gives you an additional 180 days to file and pay taxes. Individuals living in a declared disaster zone have up to a year after the original due date to file and pay taxes. Extensions are due October 15, no matter what filing status you have.

Individuals who own more than $10,000 stored in a foreign bank account must file a report by June 30, 2017. There is no possibility for extensions.

Previous Years Returns and Amendments

There is no deadline to file a previous year return or to amend your return, but you only have three years to claim any tax refund. After that period of time, the overpayment is forfeit. Owing money to the government does not expire and any taxes due from past years will be collected plus interest and penalties.

Filing Late

The government will charge you a penalty if you file your taxes late. The more late you file, the greater the penalty. You will also get a fee if you file your taxes but do not pay your taxes on time.

If you expect to owe taxes, the best thing that you can do is to file your tax documents on time even if you are unable to pay the amount you owe. Late payment charges are generally less painful than late filing fees, and the IRS may have programs available to help you such as payment scheduling. If you expect to get a refund, filing late has no real consequences except you have to wait longer to receive your overpayment.

Filing Instructions

Due dates don’t change according to how you file. The due dates will be the same whether you decide to file electronically or via paper documents. The only date that is affected by the method you chose to file is the soonest date that you are able to turn in paperwork.

If you choose to use paper documents and send them through the mail, you can submit your tax documents as early as January 1. The IRS e-file system opens on January 23, so you’ll have to wait at least until then if you plan to file electronically. Taxes filed through the mail may be accepted by the IRS before January 23, but they will not be processed. Ultimately you won’t get your return any faster if you chose to file through paper before the e-file system is up and running.

The fastest way to get your tax return is to file electronically as soon as you have the proper documentation, as the IRS takes about three weeks to process and send your return. Using direct deposit to accept your overpayment will also get your money in your hand quicker, as it takes a little bit of time to cut and send a paper check from the IRS to you.

If you have to pay taxes, you can either send a check or you can pay directly through your bank account. Do not send the IRS cash payments.

Project CRediT sources data from Wealthy Genius including net worth, earnings, and various wealth statistics.

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