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One April Tax Day, 10 tax tasks

Inkedso many tax tasks_LI

Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due.

And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns.

But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post.

Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. 

It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15.

1. File something to cover your 2018 individual taxes.
Either file Form 1040 for the last tax year or file Form 4868 to get an automatic six-month extension. Remember, however, that the extension is only for the filing of the form. You still must submit with your request for more time any tax you estimate that you owe.

2. Pay any due tax.
Yes, this was just noted in the first April 15 tax action to take. But it's important enough to repeat. Regardless of which document, a 1040 or 4868, you send the Internal Revenue Service, be sure to include any tax you owe or as close to it as you can. Form 4868 has more on how you can pay. And if you can't pay it all, touch base with the IRS to set up a payment plan.

3. File household employees forms.
If you paid household help $2,100 or more last tax year, file Schedule H with your Form 1040. This schedule covers the Social Security, Medicare, Federal Unemployment (FUTA) taxes and any income taxes you withheld for your employee. If you ever want to seek political office, especially in a presidential administration, you want to make sure you don't mess up your nanny tax obligations. Just ask Kimba Wood, Zoe Baird, Tom Daschle and even current White House budget chief and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. And remember, although it's called the nanny tax, it applies to all household employees, meaning certain workers who do jobs for you around the house (or yard), too. You can find more about taxes and household employees in the Schedule H instructions and IRS Publication 926.

4. Pay your estimated taxes.
If you have income that isn't subject to withholding, they you need to make these four additional estimated tax payments. My estimated tax primer post has the scoop. The key thing to note now is that the first estimated payment for this tax year is due on the same April day as your annual tax return (and payment).

5. File your 2015 tax return.
No, that's not a misprint. If you didn't file a tax return for the 2015 tax year back in 2016 and would have gotten a refund back then, they you must file by this April 15 or lose that money forever. The IRS currently is holding onto more than $1.4 billion in unclaimed 2015 refund amounts. So check your tax files. If you didn't send the IRS a 1040 three years ago and think you might be due some of the money — 1.2 million filers across the United States could get a share — then be sure to file by next Monday.

6. Open or contribute to your IRA.
This is one of the very few tax breaks you can take after the end of a tax year. Tax law allows you until the April tax deadline to open or contribute to an IRA, either Roth or traditional, for the previous tax year. If you're deducting a traditional IRA contribution, it could help cut your current tax bill. The IRA money also could make you eligible for the Saver's Credit. But even if the contribution doesn't produce an immediate tax break, putting money in for 2018 will allow you to max out that (and this) year's IRA contributions. And by saving as much as you can now, you'll have a more comfortable retirement later.

7. Contribute to your Health Savings Account.
Like the IRA contribution rule, you have until April 15 to put money into your Health Savings Account (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.

8. Don't forget about FBAR.
FBAR is the acronym for Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (yeah, I know, the initials don't precisely follow the full name). This reporting generally is required if you had an interest in or, as the IRS puts it, signature or other authority over foreign financial accounts whose aggregate value exceeded $10,000 at any time during the last tax year. The deadline for the filing is the April Tax Day, but the mandated Form 114 is filed electronically with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) through the BSA E-Filing System website. You can read more about the FBAR deadline in the IRS' reminder, as well as in my earlier posts on foreign accounts issues facing taxpayers abroad and tax costs that prompt or slow U.S. expatriations.

9. File your state taxes.
Most states — all but Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming — collect tax on wage income. A couple (New Hampshire and Tennessee, which is phasing out its tax) who don't still tax workplace-related earnings still tax, at least for now, certain investment income. That means if you live in the other locations, you'll probably have to file a return with your state tax officials. And most of these states and Washington, D.C., follow the feds as far as the filing deadline. The ol' blog's list of state tax department website links also notes the filing deadlines, where applicable, for every U.S. location.

10. Corporate taxes are due, too.
If your incorporated company, aka a C corporation, operates on the calendar year, then your Form 1120 for 2018 is due April 15. So is, as with individual filers, any tax due. Corporate taxpayers also can get a six-month extension to file by sending the IRS Form 7004 and depositing the estimated tax due. The first installment of 2019 corporate estimated tax also is due today. This article in the Houston Chronicle's small business section has more on corporate filings and due dates.

OK, that's a lot for some folks to take care in less than a week. But do your best because missing a deadline will cost you more in the long-run.

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