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How to File for an Extension of Time to File Your Tax Return
Getting an extension on your tax filing is fairly simple. You can easily get up to 6 more months to file your taxes.
The typical tax deadline is April 15th. With an extension, you can extend your due date to October 15th. One important thing to note about an extension is that it is ONLY an extension to file not to pay. If you do not pay the IRS by April 15th, penalties and interest will begin adding onto your balance that is due. If you know you will not be able to file or pay by April 15th, it is a good idea to submit for an extension because each month that taxes are unfiled, there will be a 5% failure to file penalty added onto the taxes owed (up to 5 months). Still, there will be only a .5% penalty for failure to pay taxes.
- Estimate how much you owe. If you know you will owe taxes for last year; you will need to get an estimate of how much you owe. It is best to do a rough draft of a tax return to get the basic amount you owe because you will need to send a check-in with your extension form.
- Fill out IRS Form 4868. It is the IRS form for an extension. You will need to have this filled out and postmarked by April 15th with a check for an estimate of taxes owed. The IRS also allows individuals to pay with their credit cards.
Amend a Tax Return – Fix or Correct A Federal Tax Filing
Mistakes happen, that is a fact of life. The IRS encounters thousands annually. The IRS’s complicated tax laws are overwhelming for the average taxpayer. Every tax season, something is bound to go wrong. In light of all the errors that inevitably occur, the IRS has created ways for taxpayers to amend tax returns that were filed incorrectly.
The IRS usually corrects math errors on tax returns, so if you received a letter about this, it does not mean that you need to amend your tax return. In addition to that, they usually request forms that are missing (like a W-2) when they process original returns. If the IRS has done this bit of work on your behalf, it will not be necessary to file an amended tax return.
What Is the Time Limit for Amending Old Tax Returns?
Generally, you have three years to amend an old return. However, there are a few exceptions. In particular, if you forgot to report a loss on a bad debt or claim a foreign tax credit, the three-year limit does not apply.
What Changes Can You Make to Old Returns?
The IRS lets you amend returns for several reasons. If you’re trying to reduce the amount of tax owed in a previous year, you should focus on the following changes:
- Credits you forgot to claim. Tax credits directly reduce the amount of tax you owe and can sometimes trigger a refund. The IRS offers a huge range of credits for donations to charity, childcare expenses, interest paid on student loans, and much more. There’s also an earned income tax credit (EITC)—as of 2017, families with incomes up to $53,930 can qualify, but the limits vary based on your filing status and the number of children. That can be a beneficial credit for reducing tax debt, and if you forgot to claim it, you should go back and do it retroactively.
- Changes to your filing status. If you noted the wrong filing status on your return, that might have increased your tax liability, and you should also change that. In particular, if you filed as “married filing separately” switching to “married filing jointly” saves money in most cases.
- Losses on bad debts. Bad debts are a bit rarer, and they usually only apply to small business owners or independent contractors. If you use accrual basis accounting, that means you report your income when you issue invoices. You don’t wait until you receive the payment from your clients. If you report an invoice as income to the IRS but the client never pays you, that is bad debt. You get to claim that amount as a loss the following year. If you forgot to report a bad debt, you should amend that old return.
- Foreign tax credits and deductions. If you reported foreign income on a prior tax return, make sure you claimed all the available credits. The US has tax treaties with the majority of countries in the world, and a lot of those agreements are designed to protect you from double taxation.
- Reduced income amounts on W2 and 1099 slips. Finally, if you received an amended 1099 or W2 form that shows less income than you reported, you should also file an amended return. Lowering your income lowers your tax liability straight away, and it might even make you eligible for certain income-based tax credits.
Steps to Take for Filing an Amended Tax Return
- Use Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” You can use this to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A, and 1040 EZ.
- Write the year of the Return you are Amending at the top of Form 1040X. You cannot use one Form 1040X to correct two tax returns. You must prepare a separate 1040X form for each Tax Return. You must also mail them in separate envelopes.
- Mail the envelope containing the Amended Tax Form to your area’s IRS processing center. The Form 1040X instructions list the addresses for your area’s IRS processing center.
As long as you act swiftly, you can still receive your Tax Return. However, making sure that you fill out all of the correct columns of Form 1040X can be a bit tricky.
What Happens When You Amend a Return?
The IRS takes about 12 to 16 weeks to deal with amended returns. If you have an outstanding tax bill, any reductions get applied to your bill. If there’s any money left, you get that as a refund.
Forgot to claim a tax credit? Did you tick the wrong status box? If there are mistakes like that on a previous return, it pays (literally) to amend that return. If you are not sure about the details of your Tax Situation or you’re unsure of some specific Tax Laws, consider contacting a professional to help you with this step of the process. We have a diverse tax team that has helped taxpayers amend tax returns time and time again.
How to use a Substitute Return
Filing Back Taxes is a complicated process. If you have not filed for years, you probably lost important Tax Forms and documentation. A Substitute Return form can be very useful when filing back taxes owed.
Form To Request a Substitute Return
IRS Form 4852 is a substitute tax form. It can be used as a substitution for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or Form 1099-R. In order to use the form you must attach one of the following forms; whichever corresponds to your situation:
- Form 1040
- Form 1040A
- Form 1040-EZ
- Form 1040X
When Is It Appropriate to File A Substitute Return?
File a Substitute Return if you are missing Tax Files such as your W-2. It can be used to report distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement, Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, or other related sources.
Substitute For Return vs. Substitute Return
Form 4852 is not to be confused with a Substitute for Return. The IRS may file a Substitute for Return or SFR if you do not file your taxes on time. The IRS uses the information returned to them from third parties in order to complete the form. The tax owed for an SFR is usually higher because the taxpayer only gets the standard deduction and usually one exemption. So it would be to your benefit to file your taxes one your own before the IRS does it for you.
IRS will usually file you as Single or Married Filing Separate. This means even if you are married or have gained/loss dependents, they will not be counted as deductions. Business losses or other related deductions that you could have taken advantage of will also be omitted.
If you are having trouble gathering additional Tax Documentation that is needed for completing your Tax Returns, consider working with a Tax Professional. It’s very important to file your returns in a timely manner if you want to avoid trouble with the IRS.
Missing, Lost or Never Received A W2? What To Do
As you prepare to file your taxes, whether it be for the past or present, you will need to have your W2 to pay and file current or old taxes accurately. The W2 is also called the “Wage and Tax Statement,” and is a document created by the IRS. Whatever year you are filing for, you need to make sure you have a W2 from your employer or at least be able to retrieve the numbers you need from it. For 2010 statements, Employers, by law, have until February 1st, 2011, which means you should be concerned if you do not get it by mid-February.
Here Are A Few Ways or Steps On How To Request Your W-2
- Contact Your Employer. If you are looking for past W2s, you can contact your previous or current employer for your W2. Sometimes, if you change your address, it can get lost in the mail. If you need a W2 for an employer that is no longer in business, then you will need to read on. When requesting any W2 from an employer, make sure you ask how long they think it will take.
- Contact the IRS Via Phone. If you cannot obtain your W-2 from your employer or previous employer, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. When you call the IRS, make sure you have the following:
- Employers Name, Address, City, State, and Zip
- Your Social Security Number, City State, and Zip
- Estimation of wages earned, withheld, and how long you worked at that job
When trying to figure out your estimate, you can always look at your last pay stub or pay statement or even a mid-year statement to make an approximation for payment, as you can always request an extension to file (which is not an extension to pay).
- Contact the IRS and Request W-2 Information Using Form 4506. Information you would get from a W-2 for the current year will not be available from the IRS until the year after the return has been filed. You can obtain the information you need from the IRS for free by filling out Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return) specifying the dates you wish to receive. Be sure to read the instructions on 4506-T, and check number 8 on the form if you want W-2 Information. To get a copy of Form W-2 and not just the information, you need to use Form 4506 – Request for Copy of Tax Return. Each year requested will cost you $57 dollars. Read the directions on the form and make sure to send a check made out to the US Treasury for the total amount if using Form 4506.
What To Do If You Need To File Now and Don’t Have Your W-2?
Send Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Information Statement
Before doing the latter, check to see if a software provider like TurboTax can retrieve the information, so you don’t have to amend your tax return later potentially. If not, submit Form 4852. When you submit Form 4852, make sure you submit your 1040 form because you still need to file your taxes even if you do not have your W-2. Just do the best job you can in estimating withholdings and earnings. If you expect a return, realize that it will take some time for the IRS to review the statement and verify that the numbers are right. If you have multiple W-2’s, you will need a separate form for each.
The IRS may let you know of any discrepancies later once they review your estimation vs. the actual data. However, if you realize differences first (e.g., you received a W-2 after you completed this step), then you need to use Form 1040X. This form is called Amending a US Individual Tax Return. It is best to work with a resolution firm or use a software program, as many taxpayers are susceptible to mistakes due to the sophisticated code. If you face difficulties, work with a tax professional such as a CPA, registered preparer, Enrolled Agent, or tax attorney.