10 Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers from the AICPA

E-Filing Will Save Time and Reduce Stress

Business Wire


Here are 10 questions and answers from the American Institute of CPAs to help you with any last-minute uncertainties you may have as the Tuesday, April 15, 2014 deadline for filing your federal 2013 individual income tax return approaches.

  • Question: Do I have to make that mad rush to the post office to mail my tax return before midnight?
  • Answer: Not if you e-file. The IRS strongly encourages taxpayers to file online at www.irs.gov/Filing. A Certified Public Accountant can also electronically file your return for you. If you prefer to mail your tax return, the U. S. 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. You can also use one of the IRS-designated private delivery services. However, the deadline is April 15 regardless of whether you e-file or submit your tax return on paper.
  • Question: What does it cost to file my return online?
  • Answer: There is no charge to use IRS e-file to file your return electronically.
  • Question: What should I do if I can’t file by the April 15 deadline?
  • Answer: 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.”
  • Question: Can Form 4868 be filed electronically?
  • Answer: Yes. Or, request an extension by mailing Form 4868 by April 15, 2014.
  • Question: How will I know if my request for an extension has been approved?
  • Answer: Filing a Form 4868 on time and in accordance with all IRS requirements automatically grants a taxpayer an extension to file his or her 2013 income tax return until Oct. 15, 2014.
  • Question: How complicated is Form 4868? Will I be able to fill it out myself?
  • Answer: Form 4868 is very short, only asks for basic contact information and requires that you estimate what your taxes are for 2013. If you prefer, your Certified Public Accountant can file the form on your behalf or answer any questions you may have.
  • Question: Why am I required to estimate my taxes if I’m requesting an extension?
  • Answer: Correctly filing Form 4868 only extends the date by which you have to submit your tax return. It does not delay the requirement to pay your taxes by April 15.
  • Question: What if I request an extension but think I’ll be getting a refund?
  • Answer: If you are expecting a refund, you don’t need to do anything other than file Form 4868. However, you will not receive a refund until you have filed your tax return.
  • Question: Does filing Form 4868 also give me an extension on the deadline for submitting my state income tax forms?
  • Answer: Each state has different rules. Be sure to check your state’s filing requirements for requesting an extension.
  • Question: If I don’t have the money to pay my taxes, should I hold off on filing my return?
  • Answer: No. You should file your return (or an extension) by April 15 even if you do not have the money to pay your tax liability. If you fail to timely file a return, the IRS will assess failure to file penalties in addition to the failure to pay penalties. If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you should consider contacting the IRS immediately regarding installment agreements and offers in compromise.

For help getting started preparing your tax return, check the tips on the AICPA’s 360 Degrees of Taxes website, a public service site to assist taxpayers year-round with tax filing questions and tax planning. And, if you’re hiring a tax preparer, become an informed consumer by reading “Facts to Know When Choosing a Tax Preparer” on the 360Taxes.org website.

About the AICPA

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 394,000 members in 128 countries and a 125-year heritage of serving the public interest. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting.

The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for audits of private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate on personal financial planning; fraud and forensics; business valuation; and information technology. Through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation to elevate management accounting globally.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, NC, and Ewing, NJ.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at aicpa.org/press.

American Institute of CPAs
Shirley Twillman, 202-434-9220
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