Oct. 15 is an IRS deadline that you do not want to miss. It is only less than two weeks away. If you haven’t filed your 2020 returns and requested an extension to file, do it now. Failure to file your 2020 return may see you miss out on your tax refund, stimulus payments, and the child tax credit. You will also owe late fees and more interest. To avoid all the above, make your final adjustments now and file your 2020 return on or before October 15, 2021.

While preparing to file, remember that an extension to file is not an extension to pay. As such, your request to extend the filing deadline (from May 17 to October 15, 2021) was for filing the return alone, not the actual payment of the taxes you owe. You should have paid your estimated taxes by May 17, 2021, to avoid late fees.

Who should file their return by Oct. 15, 2021?

Taxpayers who requested an extension to file their 2020 returns should file by October 15. Such taxpayers are the ones who filed the IRS Form 4868 on or before the May 17, 2021 deadline. This could have been done either by paper or electronically using e-file. But you should have paid at least 90% of your estimated taxes owed by the same May 17 deadline. The usual tax filing deadline is April 15 of each year. Please note that this year and last year had different deadline days because of the ongoing pandemic.

The IRS automatically grants a few taxpayers filing extensions. These include military personnel who are serving in a combat zone or persons who live in federally declared disaster areas.

Why request an extension to file?

Military personnel living in war zones and taxpayers living in federally declared disaster areas automatically get more time to file their taxes because of the hostile circumstances where they live. As for everyone else, reasons differ why you may request an extension to file a return.

For some, they want to get more time to gather their records. Some will still be looking for professional advice from a tax pro like myself. A few others extend to go over their papers a couple more times to avoid potential mistakes. Returns that have errors on them may delay you getting a refund or make the IRS think you are cheating on your taxes, which is not a good thing to happen to any taxpayer.

How can you file your taxes today?

It is only a few days before the October 15 extension deadline to file your 2020 returns. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to file your return now before it is too late. Remember, the penalty for not filing is harsher than that of not paying. But you should avoid both mistakes. You can file your taxes using the following ways.

According to the IRS, taxpayers can file and schedule their federal tax payments online. You can do this by phone or with the mobile IRS2Go app. If you earn less or equal to $72,000, you can use the free federal tax filing system on an IRS partner site. However, it is advisable to always seek the help of a tax professional to avoid making last-minute tax mistakes that can get you penalized. There will be no other extension for 2020 returns. Therefore, you should not tolerate mistakes. Contact my office today and book an appointment with me for assistance with your taxes.

If your income is more than $72,000, you can use free IRS forms to file your return. There are free electronic IRS forms you can fill out and file for yourself. However, you must know how to prepare paper forms before doing this, which is why I encourage you to hire a tax pro like myself to help you. Tax pros cost a fraction of your money but can save you thousands of dollars in lost tax credits and deductions. Contact my office now for tax support before the October 15 deadline passes.

What if you did not pay your estimated taxes?

The IRS expects every taxpayer to have paid at least 90% of their estimated taxes by the tax filing deadline of each year. This year, it was on May 17, 2021. Therefore, this was the cut-off date to pay estimated taxes. If you did not pay anything, you still owe taxes and a penalty fee. You must make the payment now. Contact my office at 2020 6181297 to know how to do this.

If you did not pay by May 17, you owe taxes plus a late-payment penalty of 0.5% per month of the outstanding taxes you did not pay by the filing deadline. This penalty maxes out at 25%. This penalty will only stop accruing if your taxes are fully paid.

The Bottom line

In conclusion, you must ensure that you file your return by October 15, 2021, if you requested an extension to file. If you relax and let this deadline pass, you will be facing a heavier penalty. The penalty for not filing a return is 5% of the amount due for every month that your tax return is late. If you file your return more than 60 days late, the minimum late-filing penalty will either be $435 or 100% of the unpaid tax, whichever is less. Take note and act wisely. If you are experiencing problems finalizing your return, quickly contact my office and book an appointment with me for help.