Has it been six months already?
It’s hard to believe it, but yes—nearly six full months have passed since Tax Day of 2019. A lot has happened since April 15, but hopefully if you’re reading this post right now, it means you’ve already filed your taxes by now.
If not, we get it.
Things come up! There are a number of reasons you may have applied for an extension to file your 2018 tax return: Your W-2 was lost in the mail, you were dealing with a personal or family illness, or you were the victim of a natural disaster and simply didn’t have the time or paperwork to file your tax return by mid-April.
Whatever led you to apply for a tax extension, you’ve still got time to get your taxes filed by the new deadline—but that time is running out.
The Federal Tax Extension Deadline for 2019 is October 15, 2019.
You’ve got the deadline (Oct. 15), but do you have a plan for getting there?
There’s no second tax deadline. This is it. If you haven’t e-filed or postmarked your tax return by October 15, you run the risk of accruing penalties and fees! And these last few weeks will slip away faster than you may realize.
You need a timeline and a plan.
Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee this timeline is right for you; it is intended as a general guideline to give a sense of the tasks you’ll need to complete when filing your taxes by the extended deadline. It also assumes you have paid or did not owe the IRS payment by April 15. Your financial situation and tax needs may vary.
By the beginning of October, you should have completed two tasks: gathered financial documents and chosen a method for filing your tax return.
The first thing you’ll need to gather to complete your tax return by the deadline is all the necessary paperwork that’s associated with your 2018 finances. This includes things like:
By Oct. 1, you should also commit to making a determination on how you plan to file your tax return.
Do you meet the income qualifications to use free e-file software? Would you prefer to use a professional tax preparation service? Whichever method you settle on for filing your tax return, be sure to make that decision by the start of October. Signing up for free file software or hiring a tax preparer only starts the tax filing process, and the next couple of weeks are going to pass by faster than you think.
Fortunately, you have plenty of time this weekend to tackle both these steps!
Once you’ve gathered your paperwork and determined your filing method, you should spend the next week actually filling out the forms—or coordinating with your tax preparer.
You’re busy, and we get it. If you’re concerned about how much time you actually have during the week to fill out your tax forms or work through tax software, here are a few tips:
If you’ve contacted a tax prep company to help you file your tax return by the deadline, then you’ll be spending the first week of October sending them your tax forms, asking them questions, and fielding them other paperwork as needed.
Just because you’ve outsourced your tax preparation work doesn’t mean you won’t need to dedicate some time to helping your tax preparer do their job. They’ll be working hard to ensure your tax return is error-free, your deductions are maximized, and that everything is wrapped in a bow and submitted by Oct. 15. Before Oct. 7, you should dedicate a couple of lunch hours towards getting them set up with the information they need.
If you’re filing your tax return by yourself and you spent the first week of the month working through the forms and actually filling out your return, then by Oct. 10 you should set a hard deadline to review and file.
Double-check every page of your tax return against your original tax forms, and make sure you’ve organized and attached the appropriate receipts, paperwork, and payment when necessary.
From there, submit through your software or get an envelope and stamp and send your tax return on its way!
If a tax preparation company is preparing your taxes for you, it’s likely they gave you a timeline for filing on your behalf. This will vary between companies, but Oct. 10 is a good enough time to check in on your tax return’s status.
If you’ve followed your timeline so far, then you’re in luck! The tax extension deadline will come and go, and you get to spend Oct. 15 sitting back and relaxing. Congratulations!
It shouldn’t surprise you that we built some extra days of wiggle room into our timeline, because that’s exactly what you should do when filing your taxes. We always want you to feel comfortable and confident when dealing with the IRS, whatever the issue may be.
That’s it! Your taxes are in your hands now, unless you want to put them in ours.
The truth is that you can absolutely finish and file your tax return within a few weeks—as long as you have a plan. But you have a plan now. And you’ve got this.
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