The Procrastinator’s Guide to Surviving Tax Day

Don’t Let Taxes Get You Down: A Guide for Procrastinators

If you are a procrastinator, tax filing season is probably the worst time of year. With deadlines looming, filling out complicated forms and understanding an increasingly complex tax code can seem overwhelming. But no matter how long you put it off, the tax filing deadline will arrive, and what you do to get ready will make all the difference.

Most Americans voluntarily file their tax returns and pay their taxes to pay their fair share, get a refund, claim a credit, or avoid breaking the law.

However, there are times when normally law-abiding citizens fail to file. IRS research shows that this can happen due to changes in filing status, emotional or financial reasons, or simply procrastination. Unfortunately, failing to file a return creates additional problems.

Here are some timely tips to get your taxes done on time and steps you can take if you miss the filing deadline.

Communicate With Your Tax Professional Early


Getting a jump start on tax filing season starts with communicating with your tax professional early. If you wait until the last minute, they’ll likely have less time for you, increasing the chances of making mistakes on your tax returns, which can cause more trouble in the future.

Gather Forms as They Arrive


Facing the tax deadline with a stack of papers is daunting even for the non-procrastinator. For those with procrastination tendencies, that mountain of paperwork can induce a sense of dread and even panic.

Instead of waiting until everything is ready, gather each tax form as you receive it and save it in a special folder on your computer.

Find Your Tax Return for Last Year


It is very important to have your prior year’s tax return available before you begin. Nothing is more frightening for a procrastinator than trying to find this vital form at the last minute. The tax return you filed last year will be required to verify your identity, an important step the IRS implemented to combat growing identity theft and tax filing fraud.

If you haven’t filed for the previous year, now is the time to do it. You will likely owe penalties and interest, so further procrastination only makes the debt worse.

If You Miss the Deadline


As a procrastinator, you know that things do not always go as planned. Last-minute snags do happen, and despite your best efforts, you might still miss the March or April 15 tax filing deadline.

The good news is that you can file an extension. Whether you use tax prep software or file online, you can request an extension and instantly get six additional months to file.

However, this does not mean you can avoid paying what you owe. If you think you might owe money to the IRS, you still need to pay the estimated amount, using last year’s return as a guide. You can avoid penalties if you pay at least as much as you owed last year. Use the extra six months wisely to get your taxes filed.

Work Smarter, Not Harder


Being a procrastinator can have its benefits. Sometimes a decision made deliberately and slowly is preferable to one made in haste. But when it comes to filing taxes, procrastination can make an already stressful time even worse. If you want to survive tax filing season with your sanity, and your wallet intact, work smarter, not harder, starting with these tips.

The good news is the IRS has several debt settlement options, including their Fresh Start Initiative, and is generally willing to settle with taxpayers who have been blindsided by a surprise tax bill and can’t pay it off in full.

Hopefully, tax filing season will bring the big fat refund you are expecting, but it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. New tax bills can unleashed a host of unintended consequences, including smaller refunds and surprise tax bills. By being prepared, you can reduce the pain of a surprise tax bill, so you can get on with the rest of your life.

Don’t Let Taxes Get You Down

Being a procrastinator doesn’t have to mean tax trouble. By following these tips, you can get your return filed on time, or at least request an extension to avoid penalties.

Need Help?

We specialize in helping last-minute filers. Contact Ergedine Pericles, CPA, P.A. today for a consultation.

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