Dead­line to file taxes is to­day

Not ready? Don’t panic. Ac­coun­tants say fil­ing for an ex­ten­sion is easy.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Gnau Staff Writer

To­day is the dead­line to file fed­eral and Ohio tax re­turns. If you haven’t filed yet, re­lax — you’re in good com­pany.

But don’t re­lax too much. There are still a few things you need to do.

Many in­di­vid­ual fil­ers have al­ready filed. Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est data, the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice had re­ceived 103.5 mil­lion re­turns as of April 5, down only 0.3 per­cent from the same point in 2018.

Re­funds is­sued as of April 5 to­tal about $220.8 bil­lion, down 2.6 per­cent from 2018.

But cer­ti­fied pub­lic ac­coun­tant Wil­liam Dun­can of lo­cal firm Thorn Lewis and Dun­can Inc. es­ti­mated that a quar­ter of his clients are se­cur­ing ex­ten­sions on fil­ing their per­sonal re­turns in or­der to de­ter­mine proper passthrough de­duc­tions.

Dun­can’s clients tend to be en­trepreneurs who own passthrough en­ti­ties, ba­si­cally small busi­nesses con­fronting plenty of changes af­ter the fed­eral tax law passed in late 2017.

And no, don’t count on the IRS be­ing more un­der- stand­ing of late fil­ers even with this year’s ar­ray of tax changes tak­ing ef­fect.

“It’s so easy to file an ex­ten­sion form,” Dun­can said. “Just fill out a one-page piece of pa­per.”

If you’re read­ing this to­day and you haven’t filed, that’s what you need to do: Com­plete IRS Form 4868, an ap­pli­ca­tion for an au­to­matic ex­ten­sion of time to file your in­di­vid­ual tax re­turn.

Be warned: That form se­cures ad­di­tional time to file — but not to pay. You still need to make a good-faith es­ti­mate of how much you owe, if you do owe.

“That’s kind of the tricky thing,” said April Walker, lead manager on the tax prac­tice and ethics team at the Amer­i­can In­sti­tute of CPAs. “I al­ways tell peo­ple: It’s bet­ter to es­ti­mate.”

Ohio does not have a separate ex­ten­sion form for state taxes but al­lows the same ex­ten­sion as the IRS — and again, the ex­ten­sion is for fil­ing, not pay­ing.

Fil­ers must in­clude with their Ohio in­di­vid­ual in­come tax re­turns copies of their IRS ex­ten­sions or ex­ten­sion con­fir­ma­tion num­bers.

“Don’t for­get about the state,” Walker said.

She said that while it’s “tech­ni­cally true” that peo­ple who are due re­funds don’t need to file to­day, she cau­tioned against that. Penal­ties based on late fil­ing are cal­cu­lated based on taxes due, but it’s not a good prac­tice to sim­ply not file or to file late, she said.

And of course:No re­turn, no re­fund.

If you do owe but you can’t pay now, you can re­quest a pay­ment in­stall- ment plan, pro­pose a com- promise or ask the IRS to tem­po­rar­ily de­lay col­lec­tion un­til your fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion im­proves, Walker said.

“Know if you owe,” she said.

Get on the phone with your CPA, if you haven’t al­ready, both Dun­can and Walker said. They can file an ex­ten­sion for you if you’re still gath­er­ing forms and in­for­ma­tion.

And if you don’t have a CPA — good luck get­ting one to­day.

“There aren’t a lot of CPAs who are go­ing to take calls from a brand new client on April 15,” Dun­can said.

If you’re fi­nal­iz­ing your re­turn, Walker said this may be a good time to look at your 2019 with­hold­ing amounts to per­haps in­crease with­hold­ing amounts if you end up ow­ing money this year or in­crease with­hold­ing be­cause you re­ceived what you felt was too big a re­fund.

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