Today is tax day. If you have finished your taxes yet, you should be a little worried. But you don’t have to panic yet – you technically have all day to get your taxes in. In fact, if you’re old fashioned, you can mail your taxes all the way up until midnight at some post offices (and people do). Otherwise, you can also just eFile all the way up to midnight as well.
But if you really, really just can’t finish your taxes today, there are options as well.
Let’s break it down:
Try To File Your Taxes First
The first thing you should look at is simply finishing your taxes. If you don’t have a complex tax situation, it can take less than 1 hour to file your taxes using online tax software like TaxACT. All you need is your W-2 and other tax documents, and a little time on the computer. Simply enter your information and file.
If you can fill out a job application or DMV form, you can file your taxes today.
File For An Extension
Anyone can file for a free 6 month extension, but that paperwork is required to be submitted by April 15. You can submit the paperwork to file an extension for free using TaxACT as well. All you have to do is sign up, enter your information, and request an extension. TaxACT will create and eFile the forms necessary for you, giving you more time to complete your taxes as needed.
Just because you get an extension doesn’t mean you won’t owe money on April 15. You still have to estimate a tax amount and pay it, or else you’ll face penalties later.
Can’t Pay Your Tax Bill? Still File Your Taxes
If you haven’t filed your taxes because you’re dreading the tax bill, stop and think for a second. Not being able to pay your taxes is bad. But not filing your taxes is worse.
If you don’t file your taxes, you’ll be required to pay a Failure To File Penalty. This penalty is 5% of your tax bill for each month you’re late, up to 25% of the total tax bill.
A better solution is to file and contact the IRS an ask for an extension to pay. Typically you can get a 60-120 day extension on your payment, or you can setup monthly payment plans. Being late in paying the IRS will still cost you, but usually a much lower amount of around 1% of the tax bill each month.
Owed A Refund? It Doesn’t Matter If You File (But You’re Dumb For Not)
If you’re owed a refund, it doesn’t matter if you file your taxes. The IRS doesn’t care at that point because it’s essentially keeping your money. But not filing your taxes if you’re owed a refund is pretty dumb – you’re basically giving the IRS money because you’re too lazy to fill out a few forms.
If you think you’re owed a refund, just file your taxes and get your money. Never give the government more money that it rightfully is owed.
What has been your experience in filing your taxes this year? Have you filed an extension before?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.