Saturday, October 16, 2010

A look back at the tax season

Now that the tax extension deadline is one day into the rear view mirror, many taxpayers (and us tax professionals too) would like to take a break away from taxes. This gives me the opportunity to sit back and reflect on some of the more memorable comments I heard during the year regarding taxes and filing. There were quite a few areas of tax law where some taxpayers I spoke with were unclear as to the rules but some of the major ones had to do with extensions with balances due, and failing to file a tax return.

Tax Extensions

When a taxpayer does not have all the information to accurately complete their return by the deadline, the IRS will allow for an extension of time to prepare the tax return. To request an extension, taxpayers must file Form 4868 (individuals) or Form 7004 (businesses) on or before the due date of the return. Typically this is where the misunderstanding starts. An extension of time to file your return does not include an extension of time to pay your tax liability. Taxpayers filing extensions should estimate to the best of their knowledge their tax liability and send a payment when filing their extension.

Failure to File

When a taxpayer does not file a tax return by the due date (including extensions) a failure to file penalty may be incurred. This rule has been in existence for quite some time, however many taxpayers are unaware of the penalty. This may also be a good time to notify taxpayers that the failure to file penalty has been increased for income tax returns filed more than 60 days after the due date (including extensions). Returns filed after 2008 qualify for the increased failure to file penalty in which the minimum penalty will be $135 or 100% of the tax not paid.

These are just two of the more frequent misconceptions that I personally heard about during the year, but there are more. With all the recent changes in tax law, there are sure to be more “grey” areas where many taxpayers may fall thru the cracks. One the reasons I always say taxes are a year round strategy that can be proactively done with your tax professional instead of reactively at year end.

The Tech Accountant

No comments: