Tax filing date if I'm getting a refund?
April 11, 2006 8:09 AM   Subscribe

If I'm getting a tax refund, do I still have to file by April 17th (this year)? Someone told me that if you're getting a refund, it doesn't matter when you file......thanks!
posted by webjunkie to Work & Money (14 answers total)
All the penalties are given in terms of percentage of tax owed. So if you don't owe, there are no penalties.
posted by smackfu at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2006

You still have to file by April 17th, though in reality nothing bad seems to happen if you file slightly late.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2006

(Note: IANA accountant) By law you are required to file by April 17th, regardless of your status. In practice, if you are due a refund and file within 3 years of the due date, there has been no penalty (in my experience). That said - the government is collecting your interest while they are hanging on to your money, so sooner is better than later. If you wish to protect yourself, file for an automatic extension till mid-August (don't foget to file a state extension, too, if applicable). Forms are available online.
posted by AuntLisa at 8:16 AM on April 11, 2006

You don't get your refund until you actually file, so why on earth would you delay? You're just giving the government an interest-free loan.

Besides, filing late is one of those things that gets you flagged for greater scrutiny on your returns. It's entirely possible that nothing bad would happen, at least this year. The IRS has a long memory, however, and if you need to get on their good side down the road, having a history of filing late may not work in your favor.
posted by ambrosia at 8:22 AM on April 11, 2006

on post-view: AuntLisa is right. At a minimum, file for an extension.
posted by ambrosia at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2006

If you know you're getting a refund, why would you wait?
posted by contessa at 8:27 AM on April 11, 2006

Because you get the same refund whether you wait or not, and it's worth the meager bit of interest you'd be earning to not have to stress about it this weekend?
posted by Laen at 9:40 AM on April 11, 2006

I've filed a month or two late when I was owed money: the IRS does not care. They only get mad when you owe money and file late.

And the deadline is actually not the 15 of April, believe it or not. Unless its changed. I knew a person that worked at the IRS handling tax returns, and absolutely no action was taken until it was after the 25th. She reliably filed by the 25th, even owing money, and never got in trouble. /trivia
posted by teece at 10:09 AM on April 11, 2006

Because you get the same refund whether you wait or not, and it's worth the meager bit of interest you'd be earning to not have to stress about it this weekend?

Not to derail this further, but...if one is reasonably confident that a refund is due, it stands to reason that (minimally) quick&dirty calculations have been done which bear this out -- perhaps not the exact total of the refund, but a rough guesstimate which puts one firmly in the black. If that much can be done easily, it may follow that your taxes are pretty uncomplicated. In that case, I presume it would be roughly the same amount of work to file an extension as it would be to file a return. Having expended the effort to get that far, it isn't much more taxing (ahem) to fill out the form and turn it in. Heck, you can do your federal return online for free, no paper or calculator necessary.

But yeah, you could extend and get it done later. I'm just sayin.'
posted by contessa at 10:10 AM on April 11, 2006

The deadline this year, for tax filing and IRA contributions, is April 17. If you plan to contribute to an IRA and you might not be able to contribute the max for any reason, it's going to be far more simple to figure it out prior to the filing date, since the IRS might not catch you at it, but your bank may or may not be so forgiving w/r/t the contribution date for your IRA.

And besides, why wait at all? Just do your taxes when you get all of your stuff. For those of us who file E-Z or who have a few deductions (like home loan interest) there is no reason to not just do it in February or whatever. I've had my return for ages now.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:53 AM on April 11, 2006

I'm in the same boat. To all those who keep asking "Why??"... I misplaced my W2s and 1099s, and I have to collect fresh copies from all the people who sent me them in the first place before I can file. Yes, I'm expecting a refund in the ~$2000 range, so I'm anxious to get it done, but I am kind of stuck.
posted by knave at 12:07 PM on April 11, 2006

wow, i'm so clueless. when did it stop being april 15?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 3:05 PM on April 11, 2006

The 15th is a Saturday this year, so it's bumped up to Monday.
posted by cajo at 5:20 PM on April 11, 2006

Straight from the horse's mouth:

My refunds were being withheld to pay off a dept. of education loan that my (now late) wife didn't actually owe. We were still fighting it, so I held off on filing for two years in a row. I talked to the IRS over the phone at that time, and was told by the agent that if you're owed a refund, you have three years to file. I believe this was from the end of the tax year in question, not the following April. If you file after the three years, they still can't do anything to you; they just don't give you the refund. I filed three tax returns in two months after she died, and the Dept. of Ed. didn't get a penny from me.

This loan was paid off over 20 years before they notified her that she supposedly owed them money. Any non-government debt would've been out of the statute of limitations by then. She appealed and lost because any proof of payments made by her deceased mother was long gone by then. Again, a non-government agency has the burden of proof but not the case with government loans. We found out that a lot of these loans got messed up during a computer migration and this happened to a lot of people. If you go to college, get a private sector grant and not a government loan.

If you don't file an extention, they will try to calculate based on your income and if they assume you owe money, they will send you a threatening letter along with the amount they think you owe. It's a good feeling to file after that threatening-toned letter comes - "No, I don't owe you money, in fact *you* owe *me*!"

The catch is, if you miscalculate and end up owing - say you get audited a year after filing - you'll have to pay late penalties on the amount you end up owing.
posted by tkolstee at 10:46 PM on April 11, 2006

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