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FAQs for Filing Returns
Q. How do I go about obtaining an extension if I can't make the April 15th deadline?
- It is relatively easy to get a four-month extension until August if you can't get your tax return filed by April 15th. You must file an IRS Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return by April 15th. Getting an extension does not give you any more time to pay if you owe the IRS. You should include an estimated tax payment with your request for an extension, because if you do not pay at least 90% of your taxes by the April 15th deadline, you will be hit with penalties and interest when you finally do file your return.
Q. Should I still file by the April 15th deadline if I don't have the money to pay my taxes?
- It is definitely in your best interest to at least file by the deadline, even if you can,t pay for your taxes then. The penalty for failing to file a tax return by the deadline is %5 per month of the owed taxes. However, as long as you file by the deadline, even without payment, the penalty is only 5% per month of the owed taxes. Partial payment will lessen the penalty, so if possible, include a check with your return, even if it is not for the total amount due.
Q. What happens if my tax return is filed late?
- If filed late without reasonable cause, a penalty for each month the return is late may be imposed. The IRS will also charge interest on the tax you owe
Q. Is it better to file my return early or should I wait until the April 15th deadline?
- Whether to file your return early or not really depends on whether you expect to receive a refund or expect to owe money to the IRS. Generally speaking, people who are going to receive a refund usually do, and should, file early while people who owe the IRS should wait until closer to the deadline to pay. Why part with your money unnecessarily early?
Q. Does a tax return have to be filed in behalf of someone who died this year?
- As morbid as it may sound, an income tax return still has to be filed for someone who died during the year. The burden of filing the tax returns falls upon a survivor or the executor of the estate. Regardless of when the death occurs, the taxable year for the deceased is still the normal tax year. Medical deductions can be taken on expenses incurred within one year of the death on either the dead person's final return or on the estate taxes' return--not both.
Q. Can a surviving spouse still file a joint return for the year the death occurred in?
- Yes, you may file a joint return if you are newly widowed. You may even be able to file jointly up to 2 years after the death of a spouse if you meet certain requirements. As long as you were entitled to file a joint return the year your spouse died, your children qualify as dependents and your home is their primary residence, you have not remarried and you support your household by providing over half the cost of maintenance, you may file a joint return for two years following the death of a spouse.
Q. Does everyone need to file a tax return?
- Almost everyone needs to file an income tax return. There are exceptions made for people who earn relatively small incomes. For single people who cannot be claimed as dependents, you must file a tax return if you make more than $7050. For married couples filing jointly, the minimum income for filing is $12,700.
Q. Do college students need to file income tax returns?
- Whether or not an individual student has to file an income tax return depends on whether the student is claimed as a dependent on parent's tax returns and whether the student earns income. You do not have to file if you are a student and your parents claim you on their tax returns and you made less than $4,300 in earned income or your unearned income combined with your earned income was less than $700.
Q. What tax forms inform me of my income and withheld taxes for the year?
- IRS Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, from your employer tells you what wages and other forms of compensation you received for the year, as well as how much money was withheld for tax purposes. If you have more than one employer, each is responsible for furnishing you with a W-2 by the end of January. One copy of your W-2 should be included with your federal return, one with your state return and one should be kept for your records.