Welcome April, the Internal Revenue Service favorite month. It's when millions of us file our returns and, despite the billions of dollars in refunds that are sent (eventually), many filers also settle up with Uncle Sam.
Those folks who owe tend to be the ones who enter April with tax tasks still to complete.
If you're one of the procrastinators, here are some things your absolutely must do by Tuesday, April 17, again because the Emancipation Day federal holiday is celebrated in the IRS headquarters' home of Washington, D.C.
That's two more days than usual, but not enough if you've been putting off your taxes. But here are four things you absolutely, positively need to do this critical tax month.
1. Pay any 2017 tax you owe: Yes, you can get an extension to file your tax return, but filing is all the extra six months is good for. When you send in Form 4868, you must include a good guesstimate of any tax you owe.
Don't ignore this or send in an unrealistic amount. If your calculations are off, you'll likely face interest and penalty charges.
2. Make your first 2018 estimated tax payment: Estimated taxes add to the tax to-do list for millions of us. These four extra payments a year are required when you have any type of income that isn't subject to withholding. If you don't make the payments, you'll face interest and penalty charges.
The deadline for the tax year's first 1040-ES filing is the same as the annual mid-April filing deadline. That means if must pay estimated taxes and you owe on your 2017 return, you'll be making two payments to the U.S. Treasury in a couple of weeks.
And sorry, there's no extension for estimated taxes.
3. File your 2014 tax return: You read that date right. If you didn't file your 2014 tax return back in 2015 and were due a refund for that tax year, your chance to get your money is slipping away. You've got three years to file a 1040 and get your unclaimed refund. If you don't, the federal government gets to keep your money. Forever.
4. Don't forget your state taxes: Most Americans also must file some type of state tax return. And most of those state (and sometime local, too) tax forms follow the IRS schedule, meaning they also are due by April 17 this year.
If you can't get your federal return done by then, chances are you won't complete your state tax forms either since, in most cases, state filings are based on what you report on your federal taxes.
In these cases, check with your state's tax office about getting an extension to file these forms, too. In some cases, you don't have to do anything. Others state tax collectors, though, could require you at least give them notice that you'll be sending in the forms a bit late.
More tax tasks: If you haven't even started yet (no judging here; I know how crazy life can be), this checklist can help you get the tax filing process going.
It highlights the necessary documents you'll need to fill out the forms, as well as notes some key filing questions you need to answer to ensure you don't overlook any tax breaks.
You'll also find some more April Tax Moves over in the ol' blog's right column. Just scroll down a bit. The list starts under the digital clock counting down the now very rapid approach of Tax Day 2017.
You also can check out all of the Daily Tax Tips, regardless of whether you're looking for 2017 filing suggestions or ideas on how to reduce your 2018 tax bill. One is featured each weekday in the righthand corner of the ol' blog.
And if you plan to push things until the ultimate deadline, no worries. The tax tidbits and daily posts will be around to for tax advice and commiseration.