TAMPA, Fla. — “Everybody ought to be aware that the due date is Monday, April 18,” said Luke Richardson, Associate Professor of Instruction for Accounting at the University of South Florida.
Everyone should file their taxes, whether they think they’ll get money back or not, whether they have a job or not — the government may still owe them money.
“You can’t get that refund without filing a return,” said Richardson.
The Treasury Department has a backlog of millions of returns that still haven’t been processed from last year, so they’re encouraging people to file taxes online and avoid paper returns.
Experts encourage people to set up direct deposit to receive their returns, and don’t make any mistakes when filing — it could cause delays and the return could be rejected.
If people do those things, they should be able to get their return within 21 days of filing, although it may be a little later if they waited until the last minute.
“The earlier you file, the sooner you’ll get your refund that you’re owed," said Richardson.
If someone can’t file by Monday, they should request an extension.
“You can do that for free through the IRS. They have a program called the Free File Program. If you go to IRS.gov, you’ll see right there on the homepage links to either file your tax return for free or to file an extension,” said Richardson.
It’s important to note that an extension is just an extension to file taxes, it’s not an extension to pay any tax that’s due.
“So I would encourage folks to make sure whether you file a return or not, by Monday the 18, you have to make sure you’ve paid any tax that’s owed to avoid interest and penalties,” said Richardson.
Even if someone can’t pay what they owe, they should file anyway. The IRS offers payment plans to help.
If someone doesn’t file their taxes by Monday and doesn’t request an extension, they may not get their refund if they’re owed one. They could also face other consequences.
“If they owed taxes then it’s possible there could be interest and penalties for not paying on time. The penalties can be more severe if you don’t file a return,” said Richardson.
For anyone who has already filed their taxes, experts suggest preparing for next year to avoid any surprises.
“Revisit any kind of withholdings that an employer is doing on your behalf or any estimated payments you’re making to be sure that those are accurate. You may have had some sort of life changes that might cause a difference in the amount of tax you pay year over year,” said Richardson.