January 16, 2019 8:50 pm

5 Things You Need to Know About This Filing Season

The Tax Season—the time in which to file your 2018 income tax return or ask for a filing extension and settle up on any taxes due—is underway. Some things are new this year, while others matters have stayed the same. Here are five things you need to know.

1. The government shutdown did not delay tax obligations

Despite the government shutdown, the IRS will begin the filing season on January 28, 2019. Commissioner Rettig said: “We are committed to ensuring that taxpayers receive their refunds notwithstanding the government shutdown. I appreciate the hard work of the employees and their commitment to the taxpayers during this period.”

The shutdown did not extend any deadlines for filing returns and paying taxes.

2. Free File is operational

An improved version of this option to prepare and file returns at no cost began its 17th season in mid-January. Under a public-private partnership with the IRS, 12 companies offer brand-name tax return preparation software. Some providers also offer free state income tax preparation and filing.

This year, Free File is open to taxpayers who earned $66,000 or less last year (special rules apply to military personnel). Different companies can have different income, age, or state residency requirements. Find the Free File options here. Those barred from the basic Free File because they earned over $66,000 can use Free File Fillable Forms.

3. Refunds delayed for certain claims

The IRS has said that the government shutdown will not delay refund claims. But refunds related to the earned income tax credit and the refundable child tax credit cannot, by law, be issued prior to February 15. This is so no matter how quickly returns are filed.

4. Filing deadline is set

The deadline for submitting a 2018 federal income tax return or requesting a filing extension is April 15, 2019. However, for those who live in Maine or Massachusetts, the deadline is April 17.

Victims of the California wildfires beginning on November 8, 2018, have an extended due date for their 2018 returns to April 30, 2019.

5. Filing extension doesn’t extend the payment date

Obtaining more time to file a tax return does not give a taxpayer more time to pay taxes owed for 2018. Taxes paid after this date are subject to interest and penalties.

  • Pay what’s owed (or expected to be owed) with an extension request (e.g., with Form 4868).
  • Don’t let an inability to pay what’s owed delay filing a return. Instead, request an installment payment plan with the IRS. There are different options, with different fees involved; find details here.

Conclusion

The filing deadline will be here in no time. Get started now to amass the information needed to complete your return and, if necessary, timely request a filing extension.