"Laughing and crying, you know it's the same release."
Although that Joni Mitchell line from People's Parties has no connection to taxes, the sentiment seems perfect for April 15.
Today's filing deadline is full of gnashing teeth, cries of frustration, fits of anger and sighs of relief. For better or worse, the annual tax task is over for most taxpayers.
Broad City animated image courtesy Giphy
For millions, however, the tax rite has only been postponed.
File for an extension: If you find today that you just can't finish your 1040 (or 1040A or 1040EZ; yes, even some filers of the simplest form put it off), then file for an extension.
Don't feel bad about doing so. There are lots of good reasons to file for an extension.
And if it's any consolation, I'm right there with you. My excuse justification: I use the extra time not only to double check my return entries, but also to come up with a 2014 tax year contribution to my self-employed retirement account.
Whatever your reason for sending in Form 4858, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, here are three things to keep in mind and which should make the process easier.
1. Submit your extension form today.
Form 4868 must be sent to the Internal Revenue Service by April 15. This deadline can be met by mailing the paper form so that it has the 4/15 postmark or e-filing it.
If you opt for e-filing, check out the IRS' Free File option. For actual filing of your return, you must make $60,000 or less. But Form 4868 is available to anyone via Free Fillable Forms. There you can enter your info and send it electronically for, as the name says, free.
2. Pay any tax you owe.
This is key. Form 4868 gets you six months (until Oct. 15) to file your tax forms. It does not give you six more months to pay any tax you owe.
This means you'll need to do a down-and-dirty tax return to see if you owe and how much. You've probably already made a dent in your filing; that's why you've decided not to finish it. But do enough to get a good idea of your tax bill. While the penalties are tougher for not filing the forms, you'll still face added changes for not paying any due tax.
If you snail mail a paper extension, you can include a check in the envelope. The table below shows where to mail it.
Extension seeking e-filers can use any of the electronic tax payment options offered by the IRS to pay your bill.
3. Check on your state's extension rules.
Most federal taxpayers also must pay state income taxes. And most of the 43 states that collect some form of individual income tax follow the IRS timetable. That means your state return or extension is also due today. Check with your state tax office about its extension requirements.
OK. Now get to work. If you can finish your taxes today, great.
But if you can't, then get your Form 4868 to the IRS today.
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