If You Still Haven’t Filed Your Taxes — Read This

Forms, potential penalties, and a warning not to 'go rogue' — check this out before April 17 and get inspired to wrap up your paperwork pronto

by Chris Woodward | Updated 16 Apr 2018 at 11:28 AM

Once again, it’s time to ponder Benjamin Franklin’s words: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

While death only visits once, taxes are an annual certainty. The deadline to file is Tuesday, April 17.

If you still haven’t filed, you are not alone. Last year, the Internal Revenue Service expected about 13 million extension requests to be completed.

“The normal filing deadline of April 15 fell on a weekend this year, and the next business day, Monday April 16, is a holiday in Washington, D.C.,” Catherine Martin, senior tax research analyst for the tax institute at H&R Block, told LifeZette. “The April 17 deadline is not just the deadline for 2017 returns, but also to claim 2014 refunds on an original or amended return.”

The IRS estimates that a million taxpayers did not file a 2014 return — and may be due a refund.

"There is $1.1 billion available to these filers in federal tax refunds," said Martin.

The 4-1-1 on extensions. "By filing an extension, you have until October 15 this year to complete your return," Martin explained. "However, an extension to file is not an extension to pay any taxes owed. To avoid both late filing and late payment penalties, you will need to file a timely extension, estimate what you owe, and pay at least 90 percent by April 17."

For those not well-versed on all things taxes, the extension is filed with IRS Form 4868.

"You must file Form 4868 by the regular tax deadline," said Martin. That way, she said, you don't face the "failure to file" penalty, which is "potentially 10 times greater than the penalty for not paying in full."

The reason for an extension varies, but it could be as simple as an address change that caused some documents to go missing.

"Other tax documents, like a K-1, may not have gone to taxpayers until mid-March, giving them a shorter window to complete their returns."

Don't go rogue. Some people may be wondering, "Well, what if I just choose not to file my taxes?"

Forget that route. Don't do it.

"There is a great potential for many negative consequences," Martin warned. "While you generally have three years to file a return and get a refund, you won't receive a refund until you file your return."

After that time has passed, it is highly unlikely you'll receive a refund.

"If you owe taxes, the IRS may charge penalties and interest," Martin stressed to LifeZette. "The IRS could even file a tax return for you (called a Substitute for Return), which may overstate your tax liability."

The IRS could even begin a collections action against you, which Martin said could lead to a lien being attached to your property, or a levy on your accounts.

Related: The Smart Tax Tips Smart People Need to Know

"If you're having trouble with the numbers or even a little anxiety, find the help you need," she urged. "You can set up an appointment with a tax pro, or upload your documents online and let a tax pro handle it without the office visit."

However you are most comfortable doing your taxes, get it taken care of, she said — comparing it to a trip to the dentist.

"You may not be looking forward to it, but it is always worse when you don't go."

Chris Woodward is a reporter for American Family News and OneNewsNow.com. He lives and works in Tupelo, Mississippi.

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