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The End Is Near! Your Federal Income Taxes Are Now Due July 15th!

I was a Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) and a partner in 3 national brand tax preparation stores in Pennsylvania for over 10 years.


It's That Time Again. Taxes Are Now Due!

Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, Federal income tax returns are now due July 15th. If you owe, the payment, interest and penalty free, isn't due until July 15, 2020. You'll have time to get the money together. You can apply for an extension to file as late as October 15th, but all payments will still be due July 15h.

Will you get your taxes filed in time?

As an income tax filer, which category do you fall into?

  • Procrastinator: I know I should get them done, but I always put them off. I have everything, but I like to wait. When I used to have to mail my return to the IRS, I loved going to the post office just before midnight on April15th to be part of the party. I don't ever plan on filing 1 minute before I have to. It isn't a good idea to wait this long anymore. The post offices close at their usual time.
  • Not Enough Time: I have a complicated return, I own a business, and I have had some personal issues so I don't think I can file by July 15h. I need a little more time to get everything together to get it done.
  • Can't Pay the Bill: I have completed my taxes, but I owe. I can't figure out how I am going to pay the bill by July 15th. What are my options?
  • Need to Make a Change: My taxes are all done. I did them right away. My refund has come and gone. Maybe I did them too early. I received another 1099 that should have been included as part of my return. What do I do now?
  • Don't want a tax bill like that again: I am all done. I filed my return and paid the taxes due but, I don't want to have to pay a bill like that again. What changes can I make now so that you don't owe next year?
  • Tax Star: My taxes are done. My refund is safely in a savings account and I am well prepared for next year.

If They Aren't Done, Do Them

You should have all of your forms by now. If your taxes aren't done yet, it is time to start thinking about doing them.

Here are the ways to file your taxes:

  • You can file the old fashion way. Download the forms you need from the IRS site, get out a pencil and calculator and do your tax return by hand.
  • The better, more reliable way, and the way preferred by the IRS, is to e-file your federal income tax return.
  • Hire a paid tax preparer or CPA to do your taxes for you.

The old fashion method, by hand, risks calculation errors and other mistakes. Plus, filing a paper return through the mail will greatly delay your refund.

Members of certain groups, such as the elderly and low income filers, may be able to have a volunteer prepare their return for them for free.

Paid tax preparers and CPAs can be well worth it but, they do cost money and may not be necessary for all filers.

I Want to e-File:

So, how can you e-file your federal income tax return at a reasonable price (or ideally for free)?

  • Purchase tax preparation software from Amazon, Staples, Walmart, Best Buy or other retail outlet.
  • Participating software companies have made their tax preparation products available through the IRS website. Use of these products may be free if your Adjusted Gross Income is less than $69,000.
  • If you have a very basic return and are comfortable completing the tax forms on your own, you can use the IRS Free File Fillable Forms. These are on-line versions of the IRS paper forms. These forms will only do very basic calculations.
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Note: These free products may not include state and local tax returns. You will have to go to other sites for these forms.

File For an Extension

If you need extra time to file your tax return, the IRS will give you an automatic extension of until October 15, 202 to file your return. All you have to do is file Form 4868. You can file Form 4868 electronically or by mail.

The Catch 22

Form 4868 is used to request an automatic extension for filing your tax return, it does NOT give you an extension to pay your taxes. For tax year 2019, to avoid penalties and interest, your taxes have to be paid by July 15, 2020. With an extension, you have until October 15, 2020 to file your return.

If you know you are getting a refund, it would seem to me there would be even more motivation to get your taxes done sooner rather than later. If you are getting a refund, does the IRS really care if you ever file a return? (I believe the answer is yes they do.)

Pay Late, You Owe Interest and Penalties

If you owe taxes, paying after July 15, 2020 incurs penalties and interest on the taxes due. If you are due a refund, the government does not owe you interest on the money you waited to get back. The government only pays interest on a refund if they are responsible for delaying it, not because you delayed filing.

Arrange a Payment Plan

You have filed your taxes and find out that you don't get a refund. In fact, you owe some more! Now what?

  • You can afford to pay the entire amount you owe:
  1. Simply send a check or money order with your return if paper filing or send it with a voucher if you e-filed. Be sure and put your social security number on the check or money order. You could save the check and stamp if you provide the IRS with your checking account number and bank routing number when you e-file your return. This authorizes the IRS to withdrawal the money directly from your account.
  2. Use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to pay your taxes over the internet or by phone. EFTPS can be used to pay all taxes; income, estimated, employment and excise.
  3. Pay with a debit or charge card over the phone or, in some cases, with your e-file software provider. There is a fee involved for using the charge card. The fee can be as high as 1.99% of the amount being financed. Also, if you charge the taxes due, you may incur interest charges on your credit card balance from the day you make the payment.
  • You owe and you would like to make arrangements on your own:

  1. If you can't pay your taxes due immediately you could set up an installment agreement for monthly payments. You can apply on-line or by completing a Form 9465 and mailing it in. This arrangement may be associated with a set-up fee, interest, and penalties. Future refunds will be applied to any outstanding taxes you still owe.
  2. If you owe more than $50,000 you must call the IRS directly to arrange an installment agreement.
  • You owe and if you lived a 100 years you wouldn't be able to pay it all off:

  1. If financial hardship will prevent you from ever paying off the full amount of taxes you owe, you can make an Offer in Compromise to settle your debt for less than what you owe. The IRS may consider this offer if they feel it represents the most they can expect to collect from you in a reasonable period of time.
  2. You may have to seek the help of a professional to assist you in completing this process.
Form 9465

Form 9465

Fix or Change a Return Already Filed

Got an extra W-2 or 1099 after you filed? Forgot a deduction? It is not too late to fix your return. If you have already filed your return, you can amend it by filing a Form 1040-X. Do not file a Form 1040-X before you file your original return.

To file a Form 1040-X, you will need a copy of the return you want to amend, including all forms, schedules and worksheets. You will also need the new forms you have received as well as any notices from the IRS regarding adjustments to the return.

In general, you have up until three years after the original return was due, including extensions, to file a Form 1040-X.

If the amended return results in additional taxes owed, you could also owe penalties and interest. An amended return could decrease or eliminate a refund you have already received. In this case, you would have to pay the money back plus a penalty.

Prepare for Next Year

Now that you are done filing your tax return for this year, it is time to start preparing for next year. You can use the IRS Tax Withholding Estimator to help you complete a new W-4.

Adjust Your Withholding or Make Estimated Payments

Owe additional tax, penalties, and interest with your tax return this year or get a big refund? You can change the federal tax withholding from your paycheck or pension. If you are self-employed, you should be making quarterly estimated tax payments. You can adjust your quarterly payments based on your anticipated business income for the current year. You can even have tax withheld from your social security benefit (Yes, you may have to pay tax on your social security benefits.)

How to Adjust your Withholdings or make Estimated Payments:

  1. Fill out a new W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, with your employer to adjust the federal tax withheld from each of your paychecks.
  2. A W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request, can be filed to adjust the federal tax withheld from your social security benefit or unemployment compensation.
  3. A W-4P, Withholding Certificate for Pensions and Annuities, can be filed to adjust the federal tax withheld from a pension, IRA, or annuity.
  4. Use Form 1040-ES to figure and pay estimated quarterly tax payments.

Start Planning Tax-Efficient Strategies You Can Implement This Year

Check out the tax law changes for this year and try to prepare for next year's filing season. If possible, discuss appropriate strategies with your tax preparer, financial adviser, or accountant to help minimize this year's tax bill. Be proactive now to increase your refund later. Don't wait until the last minute.


Any federal tax or tax planning information provided above or linked to this article is not meant to be specific to any particular individual or situation. Anyone who wishes to apply this information should first discuss it with an accountant or tax professional to determine its appropriateness or how it specifically applies to their unique situation.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2012 Mark Shulkosky


Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on March 05, 2013:

SoManyPaths, sometimes taxes aren't very complicated. but, if the IRS overpaid you, it will only be a matter of time and they will come looking for their money.

BlackandGoldJack, enjoy the Straub's. It may even make doing taxes enjoyable.

Jack Hazen from Blitzburgh area on March 05, 2013:

Yeah, it's getting to be that time again. bankscottage, I'm drinking a Straub American Amber, watching a baseball game on TV, and doing my taxes.

Well SoManyPaths, you should give some of the money back then.

SoManyPaths from West Coast USA on March 05, 2013:

They are not so complicated. A new guy in the payroll department is thinking they overpaid me.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on April 12, 2012:

Danateresa, thanks again for commenting. Again, I agree. They shouldn't be so complicated. I think people are afraid for two reasons. One, people are afraid they will get audited if they do it wrong. Second, there is the hope you will get a refund and the fear you won't. Worse yet, That you will owe money! The tax code is so complicated, it is almost impossible to estimate without a tax program or an accountant. Hope your taxes turned out well for you this year.

Dana Strang from Ohio on April 12, 2012:

Don't worry. There will always be plenty of business for tax preparers. I don't know what it is about taxes that scare the crap out of people and turn therr brains to mush... Thank goodness there are people like you out there to help us through it!

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on April 12, 2012:

DanaTeresa thanks for your comments. Despite it not being good for my business, turbotax is probably good for a lot of people. Unless you are Tim Geitner. The tax code needs to change. Average people should be able to do their taxes without a lot of help or fear.

Dana Strang from Ohio on April 12, 2012:

One more thing... LOVE THE TITLE!!!!

Dana Strang from Ohio on April 12, 2012:

Nice job! You really make the whole income tax thing much less intimidating. I like how you lay out all of the options, and make them see doable! I think so many people just freak out and freeze or put it off because it too hard.... BTW - I am a total moron when it comes to finances and taxes. I use TurboTax. It cost money but it is well worth it because they walk you through every tiny detail and there are people available to help. It's a good start for a tax newbie.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on April 12, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by. Hope your taxes are done.

Jenna Pope from Southern California on April 12, 2012:

Love your title!

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on April 12, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by. You have a lot of great hubs yourself. I am trying to follow and learn from some of the best.

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on April 12, 2012:

Wow, you know your stuff! Great info. I read your profile and hope to read more of your hubs about raising your kids, planning for retirement, and frugal living. I love writing on frugal living--and reading about it. I'll share this hub.

Jack Hazen from Blitzburgh area on March 26, 2012:

I used FreeTaxUSA for mine. Some window popped up when I was doing the FAFSA that said I should file so the info is accurate. I don't know why I picked that one. There were numerous ones to choose from. Anyway, it was really easy to use and I don't think it even took me a half hour.

Is there any way beer is tax deductible?

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on March 25, 2012:

I think it is important that kids do their tax returns and learn how to do it (even if a parent does it for awhile for them). When you do your taxes, you understand how the government takes your money and can develop legal strategies to decrease you taxes. Go to the IRS website and find a site where it can be done for free. Click on the first link above. It will probably take less than 1 hour. Where else can she earn $17/hour? Don't give the government any more money than they are due. Even Warren Buffet doesn't give extra.

How much Straub can you buy for $17? At the brewery, a case. I will be coming to Pgh next weekend to see my son and brother. I'd bring a case, but the delivery charge could be steep.

Jack Hazen from Blitzburgh area on March 25, 2012:

We should hear from the colleges on the FAFSA and other financial matters within a week or so.

This hub reminds me that my daughter hasn't filed her tax return, and won't unless I do it for her. Not sure it's worth the bother to get back $17. How much of that Straub beer can you buy for $17?

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on March 23, 2012:

Ah yeah. FAFSA. There was a recent hub about student loan debt and I asked the question, "should parents cosign for student loans?' As one person commented on the question, you need to know your child. Also, you should have some idea of the financial return from the education.

My son lives in Pgh and went to CCAC. Now, he, work and the GI bill are paying to continue his education. He is older and he has to fill out the FAFSA not me.

Good luck to your daughter in college. I hope you had success with the FAFSA.

Jack Hazen from Blitzburgh area on March 23, 2012:

Yeah, the check will be in the mail on April 17. I'll probably glue the check to the envelope so they have a real tough time getting it out and cashing it. Sort of an April Fool's joke, you know.

The reason I did mine early was because I was doing a FAFSA for my daughter who is attending college next year, and it just make it easier for the FAFSA to report the actual rather than the estimated.

Mark Shulkosky (author) from Pennsylvania on March 23, 2012:

Glad you did your taxes already. Even though they were done in January, you don't have to send the money due in until 4/17.

Intaxicated. I like that. I would vote that up and funny if I could.

Jack Hazen from Blitzburgh area on March 23, 2012:

I did my taxes the end of January even though I owe the IRS. I must have been intaxicated.

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