12 Tips for Last-Minute Tax Filers From the American Institute of CPAs

Institute of CPAs
(AICPA) answers the following questions that
last-minute tax filers might have about filing their 2015 federal tax
returns, which are due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) next week.

What’s the filing deadline?

The federal tax filing deadline is April 18 this year because it’s
Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia. Residents of Maine and
Massachusetts don’t have to file their federal returns until April 19
because of their states’ Patriot Day holiday.

What should I do if I can’t file on time?

File for an automatic six-month extension if you cannot get your return
prepared by the April filing deadline, using Form
, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S.
Individual Income Tax Return
. Filing the form provides an automatic
extension to October 17, 2016.

If I file an extension, do I have to pay by the original filing

Yes! Even if you file for the automatic extension, your tax bill must be
paid by the original filing deadline of April 18. So calculate a
thorough estimate of the taxes you owe and, if you’re not sure it’s
completely accurate, round up. Another option is to look at last year’s
return and pay in at least 100 percent of your total tax (Form
, line 63). If you don’t pay or if you underpay, you’ll face
interest and penalties on the unpaid balance of your tax liability.

How do I pay the taxes I owe if I’m filing for an extension?

Tax bills can be paid electronically using IRS
Direct Pay
, which accepts a direct transfer from your bank, a credit
card or a debit card. By phone, payments are accepted using the Electronic
Federal Tax Payment System
, which is a good option for business
owners, although it requires enrollment. If using a check or money
order, the address of where to send the check or money order is on page
four of Form

What should I do if I’m having financial difficulties?

Be sure to file your return or extension by the due date, even if you
don’t have the money to pay your taxes. You don’t want to add to your
tax bill by triggering a failure to file penalty. You should also
contact the IRS immediately regarding installment
and offers
in compromise
. Individuals who owe $50,000 or less can apply online
on the IRS website for an Online
Payment Agreement
that establishes installment payments. Certain
businesses are also eligible to use the program. You’ll know immediately
if your installment agreement was accepted using the online tool.

When will I get my refund if I file for an automatic extension?

If you are expecting a refund, you will not receive it until you have
filed your tax return.

Does filing for an extension with the IRS also give me an extension
for submitting my state income tax return?

No. Each state has different rules. Be sure to check your state’s filing
requirements for requesting an extension.

If I file an extension, should I wait until October to file my tax

No, you can file your tax return as soon as you’ve got it prepared. And,
if you owe taxes with the final return, you will minimize any accrued
interest and penalties by filing and paying the taxes as early as

How do I report my health insurance coverage?

It’s the same as last year. Check the box on the appropriate line of
Forms 1040EZ,
or 1040A
if you had qualifying health care coverage for every month of 2015 for
yourself, your spouse and all your dependents. However, this year to
make it easier to keep track, employers and health insurers are
providing information about health insurance coverage to taxpayers on
Form 1095-A,
or 1095-C.
If you didn’t have the required coverage, claim a coverage exemption on Form
. Otherwise, you’ll owe a shared responsibility payment.

What are my options for getting my tax return or extension form to
the IRS?

The IRS strongly encourages taxpayers to file online at www.irs.gov/Filing.
A Certified Public Accountant can also electronically file your return
for you. If you prefer to mail your return, the U.S.
Postal Service
uses special procedures and maintains extra-long
hours to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers who wait until just
before midnight to get their returns in the mail. You can also use one
of the IRS-designated private
delivery services

What else should I remember?

Don’t overlook the basics! Check your math to be sure it’s accurate,
don’t forget to sign the return and double check the Social Security
numbers to be sure they are correct. Making any of these basic errors
will generate an automatic letter to you from the IRS. And, if you are
expecting a refund, this may significantly delay receipt.

What single thing can I do to make filing my taxes easier?

Be organized. Don’t just dump documents into a drawer or leave
tax-related messages sitting in your email in-box. Make files for your
different types of documents so you can sort them into the appropriate
file as you receive them throughout the year. For instance, you’ll need
files for your receipts for tax deductions and credits and for
income-related documents. Examples of such documents are receipts for
charitable contributions, mortgage interest payments, child and health
care expenses, proof of tuition and other education expenses, W-2 and
1099 forms and rental income and retirement distribution statements.
tax tips video
may help you get organized.

Note to Editors: Still have questions? Contact us to speak with an
AICPA tax expert. Email Shirley Twillman at
or call her at 202.434.9220.

About the AICPA

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member
association representing the accounting profession, with more than
412,000 members in 144 countries, and a history of serving the public
interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice,
including business and industry, public practice, government, education,
and consulting.

The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing
standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state
and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA
Examination, and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate
on personal financial planning; forensic accounting; business valuation;
and information management and technology assurance. Through a joint
venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA),
it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
designation which sets a new standard for global recognition of
management accounting.

The AICPA maintains offices in New York, Washington, DC, Durham, N.C.,
and Ewing, N.J.

Media representatives are invited to visit the AICPA Press Center at www.aicpa.org/press.


American Institute of CPAs
Shirley Twillman, 202-434-9220