Filing your taxes: When to delay or amend

Tax forms

(MEDIA GENERAL) – Millions of Americans have already filed their taxes. Many others have not yet hit send, complete or stuck that return in the mail.

But should you file for an extension instead of filing on time? Should you file an amended return?

Here are some basic tax tips everyone should know.

PUTTING IT OFF

Filing for an extension with the IRS is a good idea if you aren’t going to get your return done. Remember, you will be severely penalized if you don’t file at all, so it’s better to ask for an extension than to do nothing.

There are some things you should keep in mind when asking for an extension, according to the IRS:

  • Anyone can request a six-month extension by the filing deadline on April 15.
  • You can request the extension online at IRS.gov, use Form 4868. You will then have until October 15 to file.
  • You must estimate your taxes owed and pay any amount due.
  • Filing for an extension does not mean you get to pay later. But it does mean you’ll avoid the late-filing penalty.

ADDING TO IT LATER

Here’s the bottom line with amended returns: If everything is correct to your knowledge when you file, you most likely do not have to file an amended return.

If you made a math error or learned new information at a date after you filed, the IRS will make a correction for you and send you a bill, if necessary. However, if you knew of something you left out or an error at the time of your filing, you should file an amended return to correct the mistake.

Here’s what to know about amended returns:

  • You do not need to file an amended return due to math errors, or because you forgot to attach tax forms such as W-2s or schedules.
  • You can not file amended returns electronically, only a paper form will do.
  • You must file amended returns within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax.

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