Nov. 18 is the last day this year that the Internal Revenue Service will accept electronically filed tax returns.
Wait, you say. Didn't the final deadline for sending in 2016 returns come and go on Oct. 16?
You are correct, tax savvy calendar watchers.
But folks who were granted an extension to file until Jan. 31, 2018, might be able to take advantage of the extended e-file option.
Disaster-related added time: The Jan. 31 deadline applies to millions of taxpayers who live in what this year was declared a federal disaster area and who got a six-month extension to file their taxes before Mother Nature whacked them.
Those covered by this added filing time frame are folks in the hurricane and tropical storm ravaged major disaster areas of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as areas of California devastated by wildfires.
If you're unsure as to whether you're eligible for the extended-to-January-31 deadline, check out the links to my disaster relief posts in the paragraph above. You also can get more information at the IRS' special disaster relief Web page.
File when ready: Of course, those taxpayers don't have to wait until next January to file their 2016 returns.
The IRS will gladly take the extra extended 2016 returns as soon as taxpayers are ready to send them.
And if they're ready to go by Nov. 18, they can be e-filed.
No more Free File this year: You cannot, however, use Free File. That no-charge tax preparation and electronic filing option has closed for the year.
It will reopen sometime in January 2018 for 2017 tax return filing.
But you still can use commercial tax prep software to complete and e-file your 2016 return. The same electronic submission option also is available if you use a tax professional who is an authorized IRS e-file provider.
Take time to get it right: And if you just can't complete your extended tax return forms by the Nov. 18 e-file cut-off, that's OK. It's always better to get your taxes right rather than hurry to meet a deadline that's not absolutely final.
That get it right approach is especially true if you're looking at claiming your 2017 major disaster losses on your extended 2016 return. This option to take those losses in the prior tax year requires a lot of extra work and comparison to ensure that it's better to do that or wait until you file your 2017 return.
If that means you must wait until Nov. 19 or even up until next Jan. 31, that's fine. But note that in this case you'll have to file your taxes the old-fashioned pen and paper way.
The tiny bit of good news here is that you still can use your 2016 tax year computer software fill out your Form 1040 and associated schedules. But instead of hitting e-file, you'll have to print out the documents and snail mail them.
You also might find these items of interest:
- 5 amended tax return tips
- Reconstructing tax and other records after a natural disaster
- Home basis, not market value, key amount in calculating disaster loss tax claims