Do I need an extension? Can’t submit?


If you’re just starting to think about your taxes this weekend, congratulations on officially waiting until the last minute. The deadline for filing a tax return for 2021 – also known as tax day – is this Monday, April 18.

This is the bad news. The good news is that if you’re one of the estimated 15 million taxpayers who aren’t ready to button up their accordion folders and call it a day, all hope is not lost. Here are a few things you should know.

Do I have to submit an extension by Monday?

If you’re not ready to submit a file, the short answer is yes. However, there are a few exceptions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already granted an automatic extension for taxpayers living in certain regions of Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky and Tennessee that were considered disaster areas this year. People living in these areas don’t have to apply until May 16, and they don’t have to pay taxes until then. People living in parts of Puerto Rico have even longer — until June 16.around the nation‘ page on the IRS website.

Good, I’ll get an extension. How do I do that?

The IRS actually makes this pretty easy. It has a List of partner companies which allows you to request a renewal through the Free File program. If you already use a tax preparation service like TurboTax, you can also apply for an extension this way. It only takes a few minutes.

Great, now I don’t have to pay taxes until October?

Not correct. If you owe your taxes this year, you still need to pay by Monday if you want to avoid a penalty. The IRS suggests that you estimate how much you owe, and then only pay through your tax account.

I never got a stimulus check last year. Can I claim that?

Maybe, but you need to make sure you actually qualify to receive one. The easiest way to do this is to log in to yours Online tax account and look at the “Payments” section. It lists payments made to you by the IRS, including stimulus checks. If you see a check there but really never got it — or you only got part of it — you can claim it as a refund credit on your tax return. Regardless, the IRS should have sent you a letter advising you of your eligibility.

However, and this is the important part, you need to make sure you’re charging the right amount. If you screw up, the IRS will have to adjust your return, and that could delay your refund. Take it from the millions of taxpayers whose 2021 and 2020 refunds are still being processed. You don’t want to end up in Manual Review Hell.

The IRS knows this whole stimulus check and rebate credit business is a lot more complicated than it should be, so they recently updated it FAQ page on the subject. It is recommended to read if you are planning to avail the loan.

This is all too much. Can I not file a tax return at all?

If you’re feeling that way this year, you’re in good company, especially given the aforementioned processing backlogs that have delayed so many refunds. However, you open up a world of headaches and heartbreak in the form of penalties and interest for throwing your hands up and quitting, including a penalty for not submitting. According to the IRS, you will not incur a fail-to-file penalty if you’re due a refund but you wait too long, you may lose that refund forever. Bottom line: It’s just better to file and get it over with.

However, not everyone is required to file a tax return every year, including those earning below the income limit. The IRS has a handy tool to help you decide if you’re one of them. Find it here. Do I need an extension? Can’t submit?


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