By Gail MarksJarvis
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Tax day is a little over a week away. Gail MarksJarvis has some solid, no-nonsense advice on what to do and look out for before April 18th.
Taxes are due April 18.
What should you do if you can’t finish your tax return on time or if you don’t have the money to pay your taxes now?
There is a common belief that you should be among the masses filing by the April deadline so you don’t draw attention to yourself from the IRS and bring on an audit.
But there’s a difference of opinion among tax professionals about whether that belief is valid.
Taxpayers who can’t meet the deadline can file for extensions that will let them submit their tax returns later. And they should file for extensions if they can’t get their tax return done right by the filing deadline, said San Francisco tax attorney Robert Wood.
The most dangerous approach would be to file in a rush and make mistakes, he said. Mistakes can result in penalties. So if you can’t get your tax return right by April 18, he said, you can buy yourself six extra months by applying for an extension with Form 4868. The deadline for filing a Form 4868 is also April 18, but the extension gives you until Oct. 16 to get your return in order and filed.
Chicago tax attorney Robert McKenzie says that in the current environment you may have less chance of getting audited if you file for a six-month extension than if you are on time with your return in April.
The reason: The IRS has suffered huge staff reductions and has had to cut back on audits. If the staff has taken on all the audits it can handle with the returns filed in April, the IRS may be less able to devote attention to those with extensions.