Whew! You’ve filed your taxes…or did you?
Most of America now have the 2011 tax year “in the books” so-to-speak…but what happens if you…ahem…’forgot’ to file? What should you do?
First of all, let me exclude all those who, like me, filed an extension. If you filed an extension, your taxes are due no later than October 15, 2012, but the tax bill (any money still owed to the government) was due yesterday. An extension to file is just that: an extension to file, not to pay. If you filed an extension and didn’t pay, but think you may owe money, it’s best to pay as soon as possible to avoid more penalties.
What happens if you just didn’t file? You didn’t file an extension, you didn’t file anything. What now? Most professionals would recommend that you get filing done as soon as possible. If nothing else, print out form 4868 and file for an extension.
Five Steps to File Your Taxes Quickly
Step 1: Determine the reason you didn’t file. Was it because you didn’t receive a form you needed? Or, was it due to laziness? Perhaps apprenshension? Do you owe money and don’t know what to do? Acknowledge why it happened and move on. If you were lazy, get out your calendar and schedule a couple hours to work on them. If you’re scared of the taxes you owe, work on filing the appropriate tax forms first, then worry about the bill.
Step 2: Call your accountant, CPA, or other tax preparer and get in their schedule for when they return from vacation. It’s likely they’re headed out of town to enjoy a much-needed vacation, but they have plenty of time available in May. Call today and get your appointment scheduled. What about doing them yourself? Listen: You’ve had 4 months to get them done on your own. Acknowledge that you won’t do it if you have 400 months and hire someone.
Step 3: Set aside a 30-90 minutes to gather your tax-related documents and throw them in an envelope for your tax meeting. Don’t think about it – just put stuff in the envelope. Accountants will have more time to spend with you after they get back in May. Don’t know if you should include that form? Yes, you should.
Step 4: Make sure you attend your tax appointment. I know this sounds obvious, but hey, it’s been since January and you haven’t got them done. You’re not the best time manager. Commit to attending this meeting.
Step 5: Begin 2012’s tax planning now. Go to Office Max or Staples and buy a box of manila envelopes. Every week, go through your paperwork and put the necessary receipts in this month’s envelope. By the time taxes roll around next winter, you’ll be 90% done.
Remember, it’s a criminal offense to not file your taxes. Not being able to pay them is civil. Don’t be a criminal.