What You Need to Know About Tax Extensions
Although it’s always best if you can get your return filed on time, there are plenty of situations that come up which prevent people from being able to file their tax return by the date it’s due. These types of delays are actually quite common with professions like securities traders. One of the reasons that traders tend to struggle with hitting the tax filing deadline is they face more complexity than employees with easy-to-report W-2 income, portfolio income, and itemized deductions. Traders have involved trade accounting issues, trader tax status analysis and reporting strategies, business vs. investment expenses and other unique considerations.
Whether you’re a trader, business owner or just someone who needs time to get everything together required for filing your tax return, here are some helpful tips on getting an extension to file:
The Automatic Six-Month Extension
The simplest way to get the extra time you need to complete and file your tax return is by using Form 4868. Known as the Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File US Individual Income Tax Return, this form doesn’t require a reason to request an extension. However, it’s very important to understand that what the form gives you is an extension of time to file a complete tax return, not an extension of time to pay taxes owed. Even if you use this form, you will still want to estimate and report what you think you owe based on your tax information received.
Understanding State and Federal Penalties for Being Late
On the same form mentioned above, you can see a detailed explanation of federal late-payment penalties and late-filing penalties, including how to request penalty abatement. While it’s best if you can pay the full amount of what you think you owe, paying something is better than not paying anything. A general rule of thumb is the late-filing penalty is ten times more than the late-payment penalty. That’s why even if you can’t pay in full, you should file your tax return or extension and pay as much as you can.
Do You Need to File Quarterly Taxes?
After going through the process of filing for an extension and then getting your tax return filed within the six-month window, you may decide that you want to avoid going through this additional stress again. One option for individuals like traders, business owners and freelancers is to make quarterly estimated tax payments during the year to avoid underestimated tax penalties
If you need help with an extension or any other aspect of your taxes, you can have a free consultation with a member of the Donohoo Accounting team by calling 513-528-3982.