I originally was going to write this piece under the assumption that this Wednesday, April 15th is Tax Day. But with the COVID-19 crisis, a lot of things have changed. However, I still wanted to give some tax-related guidance in case anyone is still confused. If you’d like to hear more tax advice from an actual tax accountant, listen to this week’s Money Circle podcast episode with Michele Cagan. But here’s what you should know about your taxes this year:
The Federal Deadline Is Extended To July 15
Thanks to the CARES Act, passed in late March, the federal tax filing and payment deadline has been moved from April 15th to July 15th. That’s huge news, since this change has never happened before. That means that you have an extra 90 days to both file and pay your 2019 taxes. However, if you want to file now, you can totally do that. You don’t have to wait until July 15th. If you know you’re going to owe money, the delay is a good opportunity for you to save up the amount that you owe and set it aside. If you know you’re going to get a refund, you should file as soon as possible so that you can get that money in your pocket.
Your State Deadline Might Not Be July 15
Although the federal tax deadline has been extended 90 days, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your state tax deadline has moved. Many states are following the federal government by changing their due dates to July 15th, but every state is different. So you should double check that your state tax filing and payment deadline has changed. You don’t want to wait until July 15th only to realize that you missed the state deadline and have to pay a penalty.
Your Most Recent Tax Return Influences Your Stimulus Check
Whether or not you get a stimulus check and how much that check will be depends on your income. The government is basing that income off of your most recent tax return. So, if you filed your 2019 taxes already, they will go off of that amount. If you haven’t filed your 2019 taxes yet, but you filed in 2018, they will go off of that income amount.
There is great news for folks who have not filed or don’t need to file. People who don’t need to file either had no income in 2019 or their gross income was under $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples). The IRS has created a registration for non-filers to that they can get their stimulus check. If that’s you, visit this website.
You Can Still File For An Extension
Many people stare down the tax deadline each year and decide that they need more time. Any year, you can decide to file for an extension, which gives you until October 15th to file. That’s an extra six months! Unfortunately, an extension doesn’t delay the due date for paying that taxes you owe, it only delays when you need to finish filing. So you’ll still have to make an estimated payment if you think you owe taxes. This year, even though the tax deadline has already been extended to July 15th, you can still file for an additional extension if you don’t think you’ll be able to file in time. However, you will still have to pay what you owe by July 15th.
You Have Many Options To File For Free
As always, you shouldn’t pay for something if you don’t absolutely have to. That applies to filing your taxes, as well. There are many options out there to help you do your taxes for free. First, find out if you qualify for free file, which is right on the IRS website. Tens of millions of people qualify for free file based on their income. Once you see if you can qualify, the IRS will reroute you to filing platforms that will help you do your taxes for free.
Some of these places are:
My Free Taxes (a partnership with the United Way and H&R Block)
If you need support doing your taxes by yourself, check out the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. During COVID-19, the in-person locations are currently closed, but they may still have online support.
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.