Ryan Ermey: Well, it’s April 15th. Have you filed your taxes yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. On today’s Tax Day extravaganza, Sandy and I discuss filing for an extension, free last-minute software options and common procrastinator mistakes, before wrapping up with a collection of Tax Day deals and freebies. That’s all ahead on this episode of Your Money’s Worth. Stick around.
Ryan Ermey: Welcome to Your Money’s Worth. I’m Kiplinger staff writer Ryan Ermey, joined by senior editor Sandy Block — and Sandy, we finally made it. It is Tax Day, at last. We’re going to try to get this show up as early as we can, so you can listen and then go file your taxes.
Sandy Block: Do your taxes. That’s right.
Ryan Ermey: That’s exactly right, but I guess we wanted to kick things off here with — just in case you’re not going to make it under the deadline today — what’s going on with filing an extension.
Sandy Block: That’s right. If you absolutely cannot get your taxes done by midnight tonight and you don’t owe, there’s no need to panic. You can file for an extension and you’ll get an automatic extension until October 15th. It’s not like when you hand in your homework late and you have to give a reason.
Ryan Ermey: Right.
Sandy Block: The IRS will do-
Ryan Ermey: Right. Sure.
Sandy Block: … you know, the dog didn’t … you know, the IRS will give you an extension. Now, the most important thing to remind people is that an extension does not give you more time to pay.
If you owe, you should pay as much as you can by midnight tonight or interest and penalties will start to accrue, but if you’re like most people and you’re going to get a refund and you really don’t have it together, maybe there’s some form you haven’t found or you just haven’t gotten around to doing it, you’re much better off filing for an extension and getting it right than rushing to file at the last minute and potentially overlooking some valuable deduction or credit or leaving out some taxable income that could get you a letter from the IRS. Filing an extension can be a smart thing and as I said, you get six months. You could do it next week, but you can wait until October.
Ryan Ermey: Logistically what does that look like? Does it make sense to file electronically, to mail something in?
Sandy Block: You can do either way. I would say electronically is faster and more efficient and there are lots of ways you can do that. Tax preparation software will file the form, you can go to IRS.gov and find the form on the free-file site, so there’s lots of ways you can do it electronically. The form specifically is 4868.
If you must use a paper version, you have to have it postmarked by the original deadline, which is today, and you have to use the US Postal Service to mail the form. Don’t get UPS or something like that. That won’t work. Basically, as I said, it’s pretty easy, it’s seamless, and as long as you don’t owe, why not give yourself a little more time and go to bed early.
Ryan Ermey: We did want to make a mention of some content that we have on Kiplinger.com as we speak. There are nine states, from what I understand, where the filing deadline isn’t actually April 15th for the state taxes.
Sandy Block: That’s right. Now, we recommend that you file your federal and state tax returns at the same time. Most tax software programs will do both and a concern is if you do wait to file your state tax returns, you might forget, but if for some reason you just can’t get it together for your state, depending on where you live, you might have more time.
In some cases, it’s just a few days. If you live in Maine or Massachusetts, your taxes are due April 17th, Hawaii and Oklahoma, April 22nd. If you live in Virginia, and I do, you have until May 1st.
Ryan Ermey: Hey.
Sandy Block: Hey, yeah, and last but not least, if you live in Louisiana and you’ve just spent too much time partying in New Orleans, you have until May 15th to file your Louisiana taxes. Again, we don’t really recommend this. It’s better to just get it all out of the way today, but it is helpful to know that in some cases you have a little more time to file your state tax return.
Ryan Ermey: Is there a reason behind any of these things? Like rhyme or reason?
Sandy Block: No, I don’t think so. I think in Maine and Massachusetts it has to do with Patriot’s Day.
Ryan Ermey: I think it might as well, yeah.
Sandy Block: Right?
Ryan Ermey: Boston Marathon’s usually right around this time. It’s always on Patriot’s Day.
Sandy Block: Yeah, you’ve got to run the marathon. You don’t have time to do your taxes or go out and cheer for people who are running it, whatever.
Ryan Ermey: Sure, absolutely.
Sandy Block: I don’t know why the other states give more time. I think it leads to potential for more confusion and more forgetting, but it is out there and for some reason you need to take advantage of it, we’ll post the whole list on our show notes.
Ryan Ermey: Yeah. Like we said, if you need more time to figure it out, especially if you don’t owe money, go ahead and take the extension. It’s easier if you … like we said, if you’re hung over from drinking hand grenades in New Orleans, take your time getting that state tax return in, but otherwise, we’re gearing the show, the bulk of the show, for people who are paying on time.
Hopefully, all of you have paid months ago and don’t even have to worry about it. Well, hopefully not because hopefully you’re listening, but the bulk of our segment is going to be for people who are paying today, so we’ll have that right after the break.
Ryan Ermey: Coming up, don’t fall prey to last-minute tax mistakes that will cost you money. Don’t go anywhere.
Ryan Ermey: All right. We are back, so for the people who are paying today, obviously, they’ve waited until the last second to do it, but I think that’s what a lot of Americans do. We wanted to go over a couple things. The first being common last minute errors and how to avoid them.
Sandy Block: That’s right, Ryan, and the takeaway here is just as your school teacher said, when you do your taxes, check your work because mistakes can really cost you a lot of problems. One, and I’ll just kind of go down the list of common tax payer errors that could derail your tax return, get it bounced back, or actually cost you some money, the first one I’ll mention is wrong Social Security number.
Now, you might think, I know my Social Security number, I’m not going to get that wrong, but what happens a lot of times is people’s Social Security numbers do not match their name. If you got married and changed your name, but you didn’t file with the Social Security Administration, your tax return could bounce back because that’s one of the things that the IRS uses to protect against fraud….Read More>>>