With less than two weeks to go until the October 15 deadline, nearly a quarter of the 13 million taxpayers who requested an automatic extension this year have not yet filed. That doesn’t mean that it’s time to panic: you still have plenty of time.
The rules for filing your return on extension are the same as those that apply on April 15. If you’re planning on filing a paper return or paying by check, you’ll want to be sure to put the return and/or check in first-class mail by the due date (October 15). Remember that the only sufficient proof of mailing your tax return using the United States Postal System is registered or certified mail: regular first class mail is not sufficient if your tax return gets lost or misdirected.
You can also use a private delivery service to file your tax return. The IRS will consider your return timely filed if you use one of these private delivery services:
- Federal Express FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First.
- United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.
Remember that most private delivery services cannot deliver to a P.O. box.
If you’re sending a payment with your tax return, make your check or money order payable to “United States Treasury.” Write “2014 Form 1040” and your Social Security Number on your payment. If you are filing a joint return, enter the Social Security Number shown first on your tax return. You’ll also want to include your name, address, and daytime phone number. No need to write it out again – it might already be on your check.
Don’t attach the payment to your return using staples or paper clips. Instead, just include it loose, together with a completed form 1040-V (downloads as a pdf) in your envelope. And for the love of Pete, do not send cash.
Don’t forget to account for any payments that you made when you requested your extension when figuring your total tax due. If you don’t have cash in the bank to cover any remaining tax bill, you should still send in your return. You can make arrangements by paying with a credit card or setting up an installment payment.
(For more information on what to do when you can’t pay your tax bill in full, click here.)
Of course, you can avoid all of the post office hassle by e-filing your return in order to file on time.
“If you still need to file, don’t forget that you can still file electronically through October 15,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Many people may not realize they may be eligible to use Free File available on IRS.gov/freefile. Free File is free tax software that takes the guesswork out of return preparation. Even if you’re filing in the final days, filing electronically remains easy, safe and the most accurate way to file your taxes.”
Free File offers two options to taxpayers depending on income level:
- Taxpayers with 2014 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $60,000 or less can access industry-leading tax software to prepare, complete and e-file their federal tax returns for free. Options are available from TaxACT, ezTaxReturn.com, FreeTaxUSA, TurboTax, eSmartTax By Liberty Tax Service, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, H & R Block, Tax Simple, FileYourTaxes.com, 1040NOW.NET, TaxSlayer, Online Taxes at OLT.com, Free1040TaxReturn.com, and 1040.com. Specific criteria for filing for free filing software through the FreeFile Alliance is available on the IRS website.
- Taxpayers with a 2014 AGI that exceeds $60,000 can e-file their federal tax returns or an extension using Free File Fillable Forms, a service designed for taxpayers who are familiar with tax law and don’t require assistance in preparing returns. Free File has been updated for 2015 to help Americans navigate tax changes related to the Affordable Care Act. With Free File Fillable Forms, you can prepare and e-file your 1040EZ, 1040A, 1040 or extension for free.
(If you’re not sure whether you need to file, check out this handy post.)
And don’t forget: if you qualify for health care credits or subsidies, you must file a tax return in 2015 to reconcile the advance payments received in 2014. If you received advance payments in 2014 and fail to claim the premium tax credit on a federal tax return, this could bar you from receiving additional advance payments. In other words, if you received health care tax credits or subsidies and you want to continue to receive those health care tax credits or subsidies, you are still required to file your federal income tax returns even if you would normally be exempt. Failure to file means you will be responsible for the full cost of your health care insurance and you may be asked to repay some or all of the 2014 advance payments of the premium tax credit.