Taxes not done. Help.
April 15, 2008 9:10 AM   Subscribe

It's Tax Day already?!

Help. California resident. Haven't filed either my state or federal taxes. I tried to file an extension last night, but if I had the figures they were asking for, my taxes would already be done. (In addition, tax is a language my brain utterly refuses to understand.)

I'm not asking anyone here to be my accountant, but I can't be the only procrastinator on AskMe. Advice? Anyone?
posted by Space Kitty to Work & Money (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Anyluck with TurboTax? How diffcult is your tax situation - multiple w2's, big purchases? I'f you had nothing crazy go on this year you should be able to do turbotax fairly ez.
posted by doorsfan at 9:17 AM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: For the federal extension (form 4868), put down your best guess for the numbers you don't have. (I'm assuming lines 4 and 5.) The source of your "best guess" may vary depending on what resources you have at hand and how much time you have available, but if you owe money it's better to overpay now rather than underpay--the extension is an extension of the deadline to file your return, but not an extension of the time to actually pay, so if you underpay now you'll be subject to interest and possibly penalties even with the extension, but if you overpay you'll get the excess back when you file your return.

Can't say about California, but I'd assume it's similar.

I am neither an accountant nor a tax professional, but have had to file for the extension in previous years.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:23 AM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: California gives you an automatic extention until October 15. Like with Federal, though, if you owe money, pay it now (and as DevilsAdvocate says, err on the side of overpaying now).
posted by kristi at 9:37 AM on April 15, 2008

Looks like California gives you an automatic extension to file. As with the feds, though, you must pay your balance due by today.
posted by weebil at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2008

IANAAccountant, but: If you really can't get it done, come up with approximate numbers for your extension forms. Do you know how much you make a month? Find an old pay stub, or figure out which bracket you're in and assume the correct amounts were withheld. I don't know that this eliminates all problems, but it's a sign of good faith.

Inaccurate numbers sent on time are better than none.
posted by o2b at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2008

I left the estimates blank, and entered 0 for balance due/amount paid.
posted by theora55 at 9:50 AM on April 15, 2008

Seconding doing your taxes electronically, via TurboTax or something similar. It costs, but for the math impaired (like myself, and maybe like yourself), it's worth it. It should take maybe half an hour, if you're just working from a W2 and maybe some receipts or whatever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:36 AM on April 15, 2008

I'll third TurboTax. I don't have that much difficulty doing it by hand, but there's something great about just punching in the numbers and not having to worry if you did the math right from line to line, or forgot something. I'm not detail oriented, so I always have this fear that I messed up a small detail somewhere. TurboTax is painfully easy if you just have the W2's.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:11 PM on April 15, 2008

Best answer: I just filed my extensions yesterday -- both federal and CA. I estimated what I owe by using copies of my returns from last year and filling in this year's numbers (based on my W-2, a good guesstimate of my freelance income, and the updated standard deduction amount).

Then I wrote my checks, cursed the state and federal governments for spending my money on all the wrong things, and had a stiff drink.
posted by scody at 1:08 PM on April 15, 2008

(oh, and to figure out what I owe, I just used the federal tax table here and the state tax calculator here.)
posted by scody at 1:11 PM on April 15, 2008

Space Kitty, this is very important: are you an independent consultant or an employee? If you are an independent consultant, then on top of whatever tax you owe according to the tax tables, you owe 15-18% (I forget which) in self-employment tax.

Seriously, send that money in! Even if you have to put a little on a credit card. You can pay online for federal and many states here.
posted by salvia at 4:16 PM on April 15, 2008

Response by poster: Just getting home from work. This is going to be an entertaining evening. I wish I could mark you all best answers (salvia, I'm an employee - thanks for the heads-up on the self-employment tax, that may be of use in the future.)

It looks like I'm going to go with best guesstimate for a federal & state extension, provided I can excavate my W-2's and so on. If they're truly MIA, as I fear they are, I'll go the theora55 route. I didn't file last year, but I didn't owe either - hopefully that won't present too much of an obstacle.

The stiff drink is a given.

My next askme is going to be about money/math phobia.
posted by Space Kitty at 7:17 PM on April 15, 2008

In the future, you can also just call the people who sent you the W2s -- if they're not too busy, they can often fax you a copy of your W2. Sorry I didn't think of this earlier!
posted by salvia at 8:05 PM on April 15, 2008

Response by poster: It's 11:21 pm and I just filed my state and federal taxes online. (What took the longest was finding all my paperwork.) Never again!

Thanks everyone for all your help!

posted by Space Kitty at 11:21 PM on April 15, 2008

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