There have been a few changes in the IRS office lately, so make sure you brush up and stay informed on your 2014 tax obligations. Here are a few important points to consider:
1. Opening date for filing pushed – but deadline remains the same.
With the IRS announcing that the 2014 tax season will be delayed due to the government shutdown, many Americans may be breathing a small sigh of relief, as April 15 is one of the most dreaded days of the year. But — just because the government slowdown caused a rare push-back, doesn’t mean we’re off the hook. Although the start of the season was delayed to January 31, the April 15 deadline will remain in place.
2. e-file and Free File may speed up refunds.
The IRS is encouraging individuals to file their tax returns via e-file or Free File. According to the latest press release on the subject, these programs offer a direct deposit option and will likely process refunds faster than filing through paper.
3. You can still request an extension.
Although the April 15 deadline will remain in place, the IRS has reminded taxpayers that they can still file for a six-month extension by completing and submitting a Form 4868. This form can be filed electronically or on paper.
4. Can’t afford to pay? File anyway.
Some people avoid filing their taxes because they can’t afford to pay. This does more harm than it would if they had simply filed and paid late.
According to Dan Caplinger, contributing writer for DailyFinance.com, “…the IRS will charge you 5 percent of your unpaid tax bill every month that your return is filed late, up to a maximum of 25 percent. But if you file on time and merely pay late, that penalty is just 0.5 percent per month — a tenth as much.”
5. There is always free help available, if you know where to look.
There are several organizations out there that offer free or reduced-cost tax help, from the AARP to the IRS itself. You may also want to look into your local community center, senior center or local chapter of the Small Business Administration. These organizations typically have skilled volunteers with years of financial training who are more than willing to help.