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You Have Less Than a Week Left to File Your Taxes -- Unless You Use This IRS Suggestion

By Christy Bieber – Jul 10, 2020 at 11:24AM

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Are you ready to send in your 1040 forms?

Tax day for 2019 would normally have come and gone by now -- but this is far from a normal year. Because of COVID-19, the IRS extended the deadline for filing and paying your taxes to July 15, providing much-needed relief for Americans coping with job losses or other effects of the novel coronavirus.

Yet the temporary reprieve from tax obligations is quickly running out. You now have under a week to submit your paperwork and pay the bill before the July 15 deadline. The IRS has also made clear that it will not extend the due date for your tax forms or payment any further. However, it has provided some guidance on what you can do if you can't submit the forms on time. 

A calculator and a pen resting on top of a 1040 form.

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's what the IRS wants you to do if you can't get taxes in by July 15

If you can't file your 1040 forms on time, the IRS urges you to request an extension by filing Form 4868. This form must be filed by the July 15 deadline. If it is, you'll be granted an automatic tax filing extension. Once you've submitted the request successfully, you'll have until October 15, 2020, to submit your 2019 forms. 

Submitting your request in a timely fashion helps you avoid late filing penalties, which can be as much as 10 times higher than penalties for late tax payment. However, the agency has also warned that a filing extension doesn't give you more time to pay what you owe. Late payment penalties will apply if you pay your taxes after July 15, unless you've already paid 90% of what you owe or meet other exceptions. 

For taxpayers who can't pay in full by July 15, the IRS offers payment plans that reduce the cost of paying late. These plans might be structured as several installment agreements that make it possible to pay off your tax bill over time. The agency urges those who have been affected by COVID-19 to take advantage of these plans to keep tax costs down during the ongoing health crisis. 

Don't wait until the last minute to file

You have a little more time until the July 15 deadline, but waiting until the last minute can get you in trouble if you have questions or need to complete additional paperwork to finish the process. Get your forms done ASAP and submit them on time. 

While you could file an extension and take until October, avoid that if at all possible. Getting your taxes done ASAP gets you a refund if you're owed one. You can put the money to good use by saving or investing it. If you owe money, send the paperwork in October to avoid IRS penalties. 

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