Gary J Wood, P C, CPA-Article for Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business, March, 1993
It's almost April 15th! Are you ready to file your return yet? According to Shakespeare, it is "better 3 hours too soon than a minute too late." In this article is some information that may help. Keep in mind, though, that what I write is general by its nature; it is not tax or legal advice and it is not intended to tell you how to prepare your own return.
Okay, so when is a tax return considered filed? A tax return that is mailed on or before its due date, including extensions, is considered to be filed on the date it is postmarked by the U S Postal Service. A tax return that is mailed after its due date, is considered to be filed on the date the IRS receives it. If sent by a private carrier or delivery service, it will be considered filed when received by the IRS. And if it is mailed to the wrong place, it may not be considered to be filed until it is received by the correct IRS center.
So what if you can't get your return done on time? The answer is "file an extension." And forget what you may have heard about filing a "paperless" extension this April; the IRS eliminated that plan. You have to send in a form 4868 by April 15th. This first extension is considered automatic; that is, you do not have to give a reason why you want it. To get a subsequent extension, you must give a convincing reason or else your request for more time can be turned down.
Remember that an extension lengthens the time for filing a return, not for paying the tax. So be sure to make a reasonable estimate of your taxes and send it in; it seems that more than one person has sent in an extension form stating that they didn't owe any money and then sent the balance due with the actual return. The IRS usually assesses late payment penalties and interest in a case like this. However, if the IRS determines that you knew you owed more than you claimed when you filed the extension, they can invalidate the extension altogether and assess you a late filing penalty also.
Gary J Wood, P C, CPA has been solving tax and accounting problems for individuals and owners of closely-held businesses in the Valley area for more than a decade. Information contained in this article is general by its nature and should not be construed to be tax or legal advice.
If you would like specific advice for your situation,
please call (602) 956-1774 and arrange an appointment.
A copy of his newsletter, Schedule FYI, is available on the Internet at or by sending a SASE to
P O Box 32815, Phoenix, AZ 85064.
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