Finances — 13 April 2013
IRS Answers Common Questions for Last Minute Filers

NASHVILLE – With just days to go before the tax filing deadline, the IRS reminded Tennessee taxpayers to file either a tax return or an extension request by April 15.

“Missing the tax deadline can be costly,” said IRS spokesman Dan Boone. “But taxpayers can easily avoid or reduce the penalties by taking action no later than April 15,”.

Boone said the IRS estimates that more than 170,000 Tennesseans will file extensions to avoid the late filing penalty and request more time to complete their tax forms. An extension request requires no reason or excuse but has to be filed by April 15.

The IRS offered answers to questions often asked by those who have waited until now to file.

1. How can I get an extension? You’ll need to complete and file Form 4868 no later than April 15 to get an extra six months to file. Remember that filing an extension doesn’t give you more time to pay taxes due, it gives you more time to complete your tax return. And it allows you to avoid the late filing penalty. IRS offers free electronic extensions through the Free File program at IRS.gov.

2. If I owe taxes and can’t pay the full amount, should I wait to file until I can pay in full? No. If you wait past April 15, you’ll be charged a late filing penalty based on the amount you owe. Avoid that penalty by filing either your tax return or an extension form by April 15. Pay as much as you can with the return or extension to help reduce late the payment penalty and interest charges.

3. Can I set up a payment plan with the IRS? Yes. The IRS offers short-term extensions of time to pay up to 120 days, monthly payment plans, and other types of agreements. If you owe less than $50,000, you can apply online at IRS.gov using the Online Payment Agreement (OPA) application. There is no fee for the short-term agreement, and the fee for a monthly agreement is reduced if you agree to bank draft payments.

4. If I owe taxes, is there any reason for me to e-file? Yes. First, last-minute filers usually make the most mistakes, and using tax software and e-filing can greatly reduce errors. Second, e-filing offers confirmation that the IRS got your return. Plus e-filing is free for most filers through the IRS Free File program. If you’re wanting to hold your payment until the last-minute, you can go ahead and e-file now and authorize a payment for April 15.

5. How do I know if I even need to file? Your requirement to file depends on the type and amount of income you received in 2012. Your age and filing status also matter. Remember, too, that even if you’re not legally required to file, you may want to file in order to claim a refund of taxes withheld or to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, a credit for low to middle-income workers. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant at IRS.gov to help determine if you should file or not.

6. Where can I get help filing? Filing help is still available at many free community help sites staffed by IRS-certified volunteers. Filers whose household income was less than $51,000 or who are age 60 or older usually qualify for help at these sites. Call 1-800-906-9887 to find the hours and location of the closest help site. Do-it-yourself filers can visit www.irs.gov and use one of the IRS Free File options to prepare and file their own taxes.

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