Filing taxes can be daunting and time-consuming under almost any circumstance. It’s no wonder many procrastinate until the very last minute to file. It’s why many accountants recommend to their clients that they consider filing a tax extension. Filing a tax extension can provide a much-needed reprieve for those needing more time to sort out their finances and accurately complete their tax returns. While filing an extension may seem like admitting defeat or inviting an audit, it can prove to be a smart move in many situations. Reasons you may want to consider filing a tax extension include the following:
1. You Need More Time to Gather Information
Filing a tax return requires accurate and complete information, which can sometimes take time to collect. Missing important forms, documents, or receipts can leave you unable to complete your return on time. As such, filing an extension gives you the extra time to gather everything you need to file a complete and accurate return.
2. You’re Dealing with a Complex Tax Situation
If your tax situation is especially complex, you may benefit from additional time to work with a tax professional to ensure your return is complete and accurate. If you’re worried about making a mistake on your tax return, filing an extension can give you the time you need to work with a tax professional and sort through your finances, work through any complex issues, and determine your tax liability, ensuring your tax return is accurate and complete.
3. You Have Multiple Income Streams
Your tax situation can be more complex if you have income from multiple sources, such as freelance work, rental properties, or investments. Filing an extension allows you to sort through all of your income and applicable expenses so that you can take advantage of all available deductions and credits.
4. You’ve Experienced a Major Life Event
Major life events such as the birth of a child, divorce, or the death of a loved one can significantly impact your tax situation. By filing an extension, you can give yourself the time needed to adjust to the life change, ensuring that your tax return accurately reflects your current circumstances.
5. You’re Still Waiting on K-1 Forms
If you’re a partner in a business or a shareholder in a corporation, you’ll need to receive a K-1 form from the business before you can file your tax return. These forms can often be delayed, particularly if the business is waiting on its own tax return to be completed. Filing an extension gives you time to receive and review your K-1 forms before filing your return.
6. You Want to Reduce Your Risk of an Audit
While many believe that filing an extension increases your chance of an audit, the opposite is actually true. Filing an extension can reduce your risk of being audited by giving you more time to ensure that your return is complete and accurate, reducing the likelihood of errors or omissions that can potentially trigger an audit.
7. You Wish to Avoid Penalties
Filing a tax extension can be a cost-effective way to avoid late filing and payment penalties. Failing to file your tax return by the deadline and owe taxes, you may be subject to a late filing penalty of up to 5% of the balance due for each month your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%. However, if you file a tax extension by the deadline and pay at least 90% of the balance due, you can avoid the late filing penalty altogether.
8. You Need to Maximize Your Retirement Contributions
Filing a tax extension can provide additional time to fund retirement plans, allowing you to manage your cash flow more effectively. By filing an extension, taxpayers can delay funding their retirement accounts until they have the necessary cash on hand. This is particularly advantageous if you need to maximize your retirement contributions for the year. The extra time provided by an extension can allow you to make contributions to your IRA or other retirement accounts, which can lower your taxable income and potentially reduce your tax liability.
9. You’re Traveling or Otherwise Unavailable
If you are out of town or unavailable to work on your tax return before the filing deadline, filing an extension can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you have extra time to get your return done without rushing or cutting corners.
10. You’re Not Sure if You Need to File a Return
While most people are required to file a tax return, there are certain circumstances under which you may not be required to do so. These reasons can include that your income is below the filing threshold, you have no taxable income, you’re a dependent or not a U.S. citizen or resident alien. If you need clarification on whether you need to file a tax return, requesting an extension can be a helpful tool available in your arsenal, giving you the time to verify your filing requirement.
The reasons someone might consider filing a tax extension vary depending on the situation, but the benefit of doing such can be universal. Filing an extension can give you more time to ensure that your return is accurate and complete, reduce your risk of an audit, and provide valuable peace of mind. However, it’s important to note that an extension only provides more time to file, not to pay. Therefore, estimating and paying any owed taxes by the regular due date is crucial to avoid penalties. Still have questions? Contact your CRI advisor — they’re ready and willing to help with all your pertinent questions about whether requesting a tax extension is the right choice for you.
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