Last-Minute Tax Tips for Procrastinators
It’s April already. Are your taxes done? If your answer to the question is no, you are not alone. The Internal Revenue Service says as many as 25 percent of taxpayers file their returns the final two weeks before the filing deadline. And with the recent COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that we have been experiencing as well as the multiple stimulus programs offered, that percentage is probably quite higher.
If you have not completed your taxes yet, here are some stress-relieving ideas:
Don’t Procrastinate Anymore
Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the very last minute. Your return takes time to prepare and your preparer may need to request certain documents from you, which will take additional time.
Don’t Panic If You Can’t Pay
If you can’t immediately pay the taxes you owe, consider some alternatives. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting your own monthly payment amount and due date, and getting a reduced late-payment penalty rate. You also have various options for charging your balance on a credit card. There is no IRS fee for credit card payments, however the processing companies charge a convenience fee. Electronic filers with a balance due can file early and authorize the government’s financial agent to take the money directly from their checking or savings account on the April due date, with no fee.
Request an Extension of Time to File,- But Pay on Time
If the clock runs out, you can get an automatic six-month extension, bringing the filing date to October 15, 2022. The extension itself does not give you more time to pay any taxes due. You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late-payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date (normally, but see exception above). Contact your tax professional for a variety of easy ways to apply for an extension.
To get an estimate of what you owe, you generally have to do a dry run of your tax return—which probably means you will have almost everything you need to file anyway. If they’re 90 percent done, it’s really in your best interest to just get it done and file by April 15th (and for this current tax season, you have until April 19th if you live in Massachusetts or Maine).
Contribute to (or Open) an IRA Account or HSA Account
You can make previous-year contributions to a Traditional or Roth IRA, or SEP-IRA through the filing deadline. If you still need to open an account, be warned that some companies’ processes are not instantaneous. If you are under 50, you can contribute up to $6,000 into your Traditional or Roth IRA accounts and add an additional $1,000 if you are over age 50. SEP-IRA contributions can not exceed $58,000 but the actual amount depends on your specific situation. Best to seek professional advice on this.
If you’re covered by a high-deductible health plan—defined as a minimum deductible of $1,400 for an individual or $2,800 for a family—you can also deduct contributions made to a Health Savings Account (HSA). You have until the tax filing deadline to make a deductible contribution. For 2021, you can contribute up to $3,600 to an HSA if you have self-only coverage or $7,200 for family coverage. People aged 55 or older can make an additional $1,000 “catch-up” contribution.
Jeffrey Schweitzer can be found at Northeast Financial Strategies Inc (NFS) at Wampum Corner in Wrentham. NFS works with individuals and small businesses providing financial and estate planning, insurance, investments and also offers full service accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, income tax preparation, and notary public services. For more information call Jeffrey at 800-560-4NFS or visit online - www.nfsnet.com