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8 tax tasks to take care of by April 18

Tax Day 2016 is a week away. That's seven days to take care of your annual tax duty.

It also means you have seven days to complete some other tax-related tasks that have an April 18 deadline, too.

Here are eight tax tasks to take care of in this final filing week.

The Beatles 8 Days a Week YouTube videoThe Beatles' most famous tax-related song is Tax Man, but for this post, Eight Days a Week works, too.
Click image to watch the YouTube video of the more-than-a-week-long song.

1. File your 2015 tax year federal tax return.
If you miss this deadline by more than 60 days, this year you'll pay a bigger penalty: $205 (up from $135 in prior years) or 100 percent of your tax.

2. Make your first 2016 estimated tax payment.
Your first amount of estimated taxes for the first quarter of 2016 is due on the April Tax Day deadline, too. If you have income that isn't subject to withholding -- self-employment income (either full-time or as a side job), investment earnings, prize or gambling winnings -- you should make these four extra tax payments each year. It will keep you from owing a surprisingly big tax bill (and possible underpayment penalties) next April.

3. File your 2012 tax return.
Every year some folks don't file returns. And three years later, they run the risk of losing any possible refund forever. That's the case this filing season for refunds related to 2012 returns that weren't filed. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service says that more than 1 million folks didn't file a return for that tax year back in April 2013. And, says the IRS, if they -- you, perhaps -- don't file that old form by April 18, the U.S. Treasury will keep your portion of the more than $950 million in old, unclaimed refunds.

4. Contribute to or open an IRA.
This is one of the very few tax breaks you can take after the end of a tax year. You have until the April filing deadline to open an IRA, either Roth or traditional, for the prior tax year. If you already have an IRA, either Roth or traditional, put tax money for 2015 into it by April 18. If you're deducting a traditional IRA contribution, it could help cut your tax bill. But even if the contribution doesn't produce an immediate tax break, putting money in for 2015 will allow you to max out your 2016 contributions. And by saving as much as you can now, you'll have a more comfortable retirement later.

5. Contribute to your Health Savings Account (HSA).
Like the IRA contribution rule, you have until April 18 to put money into your HSA. This medical account, which basically is available to folks covered under a high deductible health plan (HDHP), offers a tax-preferred way to pay for your HDHP out-of-pocket costs. An HSA, however, offers even more flexibility. You can use HSA funds to pay for current medical expenses, save for future medical expenses or even to reimburse past medical expenses incurred after you established your HSA.

6. File for an extension.
If you just can't get your federal Form 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ) done by April 18, at least file Form 4868. This will give you an automatic six-month extension of time to file your return. That new due day for your federal paperwork is Oct. 17. Yes, the extension deadline is, like the April one, also later this year. The usual Oct. 15 extended due date in 2016 is on Saturday, pushing the extended filing deadline to the next Monday.

7. File your state tax return.
Most taxpayers -- folks in 43 states and the District of Columbia -- also face state income taxes. And most of those states tax departments follow the federal filings deadline. Check with your state tax department about a possible filing extension.

The only states that don't follow Uncle Sam's tax-filing calendar are, alphabetically:

  • Delaware, with tax returns/payments due by April 30. But the tax due date this filing season is Monday, May 2, since April 30 is on a Saturday.
  • Hawaii, with tax returns/payments due by April 20.
  • Iowa, with tax returns/payments due by April 30. Again, the Saturday calendar date makes the due date this year Monday, May 2.
  • Louisiana, with taxes tax returns/payments due by May 15. But for 2016, the deadline is Monday, May 16, since May 15 is a Sunday.
  • Virginia, with tax returns/payments due by May 1. But since that's on a Sunday in 2016, the deadline is pushed to Monday, May 2.

And since I know some of y'all are still wondering, the states that don't collect any kind of individual income tax at all are: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming and my native and current home Texas. (New Hampshire and Tennessee don't tax wage income, but do collect on interest and dividend earnings.)

8. Pay your due taxes.
Even if you do file for a federal extension -- let's say it altogether, now -- it's an extension to file your tax forms not an extension to pay your tax bill. If you don't make at least a good faith effort to pay a solid guessitmate of what you owe, you will get hit with late payment penalties.

There you go. Have a good and busy pre-April 18 tax week!


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