Why We File Extensions – Debunking the Myths
We understand that the use of extensions may raise some questions. To help you feel more comfortable, we have compiled a list of the common extension myths and explained why they are not true.
Myth #1 – Filing after 4/15 is filing late.
Tax filings have two components:
- Your tax liability- the amount of money due for the year
- Your tax return- the document that reports your income, deductions, tax liability, and results in a balance due or refund
The April 15th deadline is for payment of your tax liability (#1 above) and that deadline cannot be extended. You can, however, request an automatic extension of 6 months (to October 15th) to file your tax return.
Myth #2 – Filing an extension is asking for trouble.
To file an extension, you submit Form 4868 by April 15th and this automatically shifts your due date to October 15th.
The title of Form 4868 is “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return” – automatic is in the name!
Returns filed by October 15th, after requesting an extension, are on time and are treated the same as those filed by April 15th.
Myth #3 – “I won’t know the projected results of the return. Will I owe? Can I make a retirement contribution?”
Filing an extension requires a comprehensive projection of the tax return results. We request certain information related to income, withholdings, and estimated tax payments to determine your tax liability. An extension extends the deadline for filing, not for paying.
If there are balances due, you must pay them by April 15th. We will let you know how much, if anything, is owed.
If you are considering a retirement contribution, we will provide you information for that decision.
Myth #4 – An extension costs more money.
There is no fee for filing an extension.
Myth #5 – It is better to file by April 15th and amend the return later.
Filing by April 15th and planning to file an amended return to correct and/or add information is an unnecessary complication. In addition to managing multiple submissions and slow processing by the government agencies, it generates additional accounting fees. (We are not interested in making money from duplicating our efforts!)
Myth #6 – My return is simple, so I do not need an extension.
Even “simple returns” are sometimes held up because we are waiting for source documents. Brokerage accounts often don’t send final 1099s until late March, April or even May. There is nothing simple about a last-minute rush. Taking the time to review the return together is important. We will always prioritize this collaboration over filing by April 15th.
Quality tax preparation requires an understanding of both the documents being processed and the taxpayers themselves. It is our focus on collaboration that provides clients with the best services. If we attempt to file as many returns as possible by April 15th each year, our attention would be on quantity and not quality. To achieve the highest standards of care, our tax preparation process includes the extension of the April 15th due date to October 15th for most of the people that we serve. This gives us the time we need to collect all the accurate, final documents and we have time to connect with you throughout the process.
The criteria for filing prior to April 15th excludes nearly all of our clients:
- The taxpayer must not have any investment accounts. Brokerage statements are issued later each year and the ongoing corrections of the statements are often issued as late as May.
- The taxpayer must not have any investments that report on Form K-1. Having ownership in a Partnership or S Corporation means that a K-1 is issued to the taxpayer. Those forms are issued on or after March 15th.
- If the taxpayer is self-employed, all business records would need to be submitted by January 31 and they would need to confirm that they are not planning to contribute to a retirement account.
- The taxpayer is not impacted by any current year tax law changes. Late changes to the tax law cause delays in the availability of forms and the opening of efiling with the IRS.
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“It is hard to believe we have worked with Carter CPA for over 40 years, originally with the founder, Jerald Elkins, and then with Jodi Carter for the past twenty years. We have had a relatively complicated tax situation stemming from one of us being a salaried employee, the other a business owner and our many ventures into real estate investments, both residential and commercial. Additionally, we have been primary residents of four different States over the years. Despite this and the changing tax laws on real estate and other investment strategies, Carter CPA has maintained the necessary expertise and advice that has allowed us to optimize our tax situation. The transition in technology over the years was extremely smooth and the service has remained at the highest levels. Carter CPA is defined by the word "professionalism.”
“I have been very fortunate to have Carter CPA by my side during the development of my new business. Jodi and her team have guided me through all of the financial and organizational challenges of a start up. Their knowledge and support has been instrumental, and I look forward to growing together. They truly understand my vision, and are proactive in helping me achieve my goals.”
“I am a free-lance medical writer and a children's book author -- now on the edge of retirement. For me, tax preparation was complicated and disorganized. For Jodi Carter, not at all. For many years now she has me orderly, and amused rather than confused about my taxes. Jodi has organized my financial transactions and transitions, shaped up the IRS for me, and has always been responsive to my questions and concerns — even if they are silly. Of all the "services" I have that make my life easier, Carter CPA tops the list.”
“For over 20 years, we have had great confidence in the services we have received from Carter CPA. Most recently, Jodi introduced us to the firm’s Financial Planning Services. She paired us with a Certified Financial Planner that is part of her team and together, they have been instrumental in developing a well balanced financial plan for our retirement. They are quick to respond to all our questions and concerns and most importantly we feel they truly have our best financial interest in mind. They are an impressive team and always a delight to work with.”
“A number of years ago, a close friend referred Jodi Carter to me when I need a good tax advisor. I have continued to work with her as I've found both her accounting and her communication skills to be excellent. More recently, when I needed help with financial planning and estate planning, she made recommendations of people and a process that has worked out extremely well. Spearheaded by Jodi, I now have a coordinated team of top professionals working diligently on my behalf.”
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“As a performer and consultant that I have been a long term “legacy” client working with Carter CPA, LLC for over 20 years. They have prepared my yearly taxes with a high level of expertise, great efficiently, accuracy and speed for so many years my gratitude cannot be overstated.
I would whole heartedly recommend Jodi Carter and the team at Carter CPA LLC to any individual or company for their financial needs."
“Going through a divorce is emotionally and financially exhausting. Jodi and her team were extremely patient and helpful. They advised me about my finances, put together a monthly budget, prepared my taxes, reviewed my interim agreement and tax implications. I am finally on track and able to plan for my future wisely with their guidance.”