10 tips for last-minute tax filers

Here are 10 questions and answers from the American Institute of CPAs to help with last-minute uncertainties as the deadline for filing 2012 individual income tax returns approaches.

Q. Is April 15 the deadline for filing 2012 tax return?
A. Yes, midnight on Monday, April 15, 2013.  It is also the due date for first quarter estimates if required to pay estimated taxes quarterly.

Q. Do tax returns have to be mailed at the post office?
A. The IRS strongly encourages taxpayers who have access to a computer to file online at www.IRS.gov. Any certified public accountant can also electronically file. The United States Postal Service uses special procedures and maintains extra-long hours to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers who wait until the last minute to get their returns in the mail by midnight. There are also IRS-designated private delivery services.

Q. What does it cost to file a return online?
A. There is no charge to use IRS e-file to file returns electronically.

Q. What if a person can’t file by the April 15 deadline?
A. Individuals who need additional time should submit a request for an extension by filing IRS Form 4868, “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.”

Q. Can Form 4868 be filed electronically?
A. Yes.  Or, filers can request an extension by mailing Form 4868 by midnight on April 15, 2013.

Q. How do filers know if a request for an extension has been approved?
A. Filing a Form 4868 on time and in accordance with all IRS requirements automatically grants a taxpayer an extension to file their 2012 income tax return until Oct. 15, 2013.

Q. How complicated is Form 4868?
A. Form 4868 is very short, it only asks for basic contact information and requires only an estimate of 2012 taxes.

Q. Why is an estimate of taxes required if requesting an extension?
A. Correctly filing Form 4868 only extends the date to submit tax returns. It does not delay the requirement to pay taxes by April 15.

Q. What if a filer thinks they’ll be getting a refund?
A. Those expecting a refund don’t need to do anything other than file Form 4868.  However, the refund will not be received until after filing a tax return.

Q. Does filing Form 4868 also give an extension on the deadline for submitting my state income tax forms?
A. Each state has different rules. Be sure to check your state’s filing requirements for requesting an extension.

For more information, check the tips on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Taxes website at 360Taxes.org. It is a public service site to assist taxpayers year-round with tax filing questions and tax planning and tax saving strategies.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with nearly 386,000 members in 128 countries and a 125-year heritage of serving the public interest.
 The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.


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