Hello All, Everyone's favorite day of the year is here again, Tax Day!
However if you are like most American's and put off your taxes till literally the last minute I have some good news for you, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get your documents in on time.
A little back story to give some credibility, before I entered the world of radio I was employed by a little organization known as the Internal Revenue Service (You may know them as the IRS). One of my jobs was to file and document tax returns, during my time there I learned that there are a few perfectly legal techniques you can use to ensure that your taxes arrive at the IRS on-time and without penalty. I've also included a couple of important Do Not's at the end of the article that may help keep you out of trouble.
*Notice: Nothing given in this article is illegal or unethical in any way, if you are looking for a way to cheat on your taxes then I suggest finding someone who has spent time in prison*
1. Your taxes must be POSTMARKED by April 15th, (Or in this year's case April 17th as the 15th falls on a weekend) This is critical in that your documents do not need to physically be filed by the 15th, they must be in the mail by the 15th.
2. E-file: While I personally am not a fan of E-filing, it is a much quicker way to submit your taxes and you know instantly if they were accepted into the system. The IRS allows you to E-file for FREE.
If anyone website tries to charge you for submitting your documents it is a scam. I don't believe this is as big of a problem now as it was when the IRS first started accepting online applications. However you should always confirm you are submitting to a legitimate source. If in doubt make sure the website has www.irs.gov in the title.
3. Mail Options: If you do elect to physically print out and mail your tax returns, you actually have a few different options for submission. While most people elect to mail their returns first class from the United States Postal Service you can actually use private delivery services designated by the IRS to ensure that your documents arrive on time. Don't let the use of the words private delivery service scare you away into thinking you have to hire some sort of ninja or bounty hunter to hand deliver your tax returns.
Private delivery services include DHL Express, FedEX and UPS. While these services will cost you more, the IRS actually opens any mail received from a private delivery service before it opens standard first class mail from the Postal Service. This is a major advantage as mail centers across the country get overrun with tax returns and mail that will arrive on one particular day may not get opened for another week.
4. Extensions: If for some reason you are unable to file your taxes by April 15th you are able to submit a form 4868. The 4868 is an automatic 6 month extension to file a personal income tax return, meaning you have till October 15th to file your taxes. However this is not a cure all magic bullet for all your problems.
If you owe money to the IRS you are expected to have your payment submitted by April 15th, no exceptions. The 4868 is only an extension for a tax return not a payment.
If you owe money and plan on filing a 4868 then you still need to submit a 1040-ES with your payment by April 15th. A 1040-ES is an estimated payment voucher, if you do not make your payment on time you will be charged interest, and it's pretty hefty interest.
Last but not least, if you do owe the US Government money please make the check or money order payable to United States Treasury. This will make processing your return go much quicker, do not use any of the following; IRS, US government, Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, or Scumbags.
Also if you do feel so inclined to give Uncle Sam a piece of your mind when filling your taxes DO NOT threaten any IRS employees.
This happens more often than you would think, the way the IRS Mail Rooms are designed is any threat against an employee counts as a separate individual threat against every employee in the room usually around 250 people, or 250 separate counts against you on the day of your hearing.
Law enforcement will be notified immediately and typically within hours the offending party is arrested, also judges don't take to kindly to people who threaten other government employees.
As always, if you have any questions I suggest consulting either the IRS help line http://www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html or a tax professional.
Thanks for reading! For more information on finances you can visit the Archive Section of the website and as always check out our current Shows for all the latest in Sports, Music, Fitness, Health and Everything Else.