Tax Day 2017: Dates and Deadlines for 2016–17 Tax Returns
When to File Tax Returns in the United States
The number of Americans filing their own tax returns is on the rise. But, without the help of a professional accountant, it’s important to know when to file your tax return in order to meet all the deadlines.
When it comes to completing your tax return filings, there will most likely be two scenarios. The first is a tax refund. If you are fortunate enough to receive one, you might be asking when and how you will receive it. This will be answered below, as well as other questions that relate to tax refunds.
The second scenario would be having to pay the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for owed taxes. Knowing the due date and other important days is very important because, if your owed taxes aren’t submitted by the deadline, it could result in you paying a penalty fee.
There are also other questions and answers below which will help you complete your tax return. There is information on how to check the status of your tax return as well.
What is the First Day of Tax Season?
The IRS is accepting tax returns as of January 23, 2017.
What is the Last Day to Submit a Tax Return Filing?
The due date to submit your U.S. tax return is April 18, 2017.
There is a possibility of getting an extension of two months if you are a U.S. citizen who is working or living outside the country.
If you are serving the country in the military, you may also receive a extension of two months. There is also a longer extension available based on specific military duties and locations.
If more time is needed for any other reason, the IRS will evaluate your situation; approval being on a case-by-case basis.
What Are the Options for Filing a Tax Return?
There are four options for filing your tax return:
- submitting an electronic return via the IRS web site,
- mailing a paper-based return,
- purchasing commercial tax preparation software, or
- having a professional complete your tax return on your behalf.
When Should I Expect My Tax Refund?
If you completed a physical tax return on paper, then the expected waiting period for your tax refund is six weeks. The tax return will be received in the mail in the form of a check.
If you completed your tax return filing through a tax professional or electronic-based system, then the expected time would be 21 days. In these cases, the return will be directly deposited into your bank account.
When Are the First Tax Refunds Being Sent Out?
Tax refunds from completed electronic filings started being directly deposited into bank accounts on February 3, 2017, while refunds from paper-based filings started being mailed three days later, on February 6.
What Could Delay My Tax Refund?
Both electronic and physical tax return filings could see a delay because the IRS is spending a little more time on due diligence compared to previous years, in order to detect and reduce fraud. The IRS expects that 90% of refunds will be delivered on time, however.
There are other delays that could occur, which the IRS has no control over.
- The IRS and postal service will be shut down if there are any public holidays after you have submitted your tax return file.
- A delay could be caused by the postal service having to process and deliver a high volume of mail.
Electronic Tax Return Delays
It normally takes five business days for financial institutions to process a direct deposit. There will be delays if the bank account number that was submitted is incorrect. In these cases, a check may be mailed instead.
What is the Deadline to Pay Taxes That Are Owed?
If you owe taxes to the IRS, then the last day to pay is April 18, 2017. If you pay after this date, then penalty fees will apply, unless the IRS provides you an extension. Further below is more information regarding penalties and fees.
How Do I Pay the IRS if I Owe Taxes?
Depending how urgent a situation you are in, there are different options for paying owed taxes:
- same-day wire,
- check or money order (this method will take the longest),
- cash (pay at retailer partner),
- electronic funds withdrawal (during the e-filing tax return process), or
- electronic Federal Tax Payment System.
What Form Must Be Completed to File a Tax Amendment? Can I File it Electronically?
If you need to complete the tax amendment form, complete form 1040.
That form cannot be submitted electronically.
When to File Tax Amendment Form?
If you complete your tax return and the information regarding your income, deductions, or credits needs to be changed, then you must complete a tax return amendment form as soon as possible.
If I Complete the Tax Amendment Form and Expect a Tax Refund, Will There Be Any Penalty Fees?
No, you will not be subject to any fees or penalties.
If I Complete the Tax Amendment Form and Owe Additional Taxes, What Is the Due Date? Will There Be Any Penalty Fees?
If you complete the tax amendment form and the April 18 due date has not passed, then the taxes owed would be paid by the due date. There will be no penalty fees as long as the deadline is not missed.
If the due date has passed and you owe taxes, only then may penalty fees apply. More information is provided further below on how these are calculated.
If I Complete the Tax Amendment Form, How Far Back Can I Make a Refund Claim?
To claim a refund, you must file form 1040 within three years after the date you filed your original tax return, or within two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
I Noticed I Need a Tax Amendment Form for Multiple Years: How Many Forms Need to Be Completed?
One form would be needed to be completed for each year that is being amended (so two forms for two years, etc.). Each form should also be put in a different envelope.
Three Important Things to Know When Completing the Tax Amendment Form
I would recommend making photocopies of everything that you will send to the IRS, since some parts of the form require original paperwork. Below is more information on how to complete each section.
- Column A: Show the original figures (mail the original return) or adjusted figures (prior to amendment).
- Column C: Displays the correct figures (after the adjustments are done).
- Column B: The difference between columns A and C. On the back of the form, you must explain the exact changes and why they are being made.
When Not to Complete a Tax Return Amendment Form
If you complete your tax return with all of the correct income, credits, and deductions, but made a mathematical or clerical error, then there is no need to complete the tax amended form. But don’t worry: the IRS will make the necessary corrections and you will incur no penalties.
Obviously, errors mean that your tax refund will be different from the one expected based on the original version of your tax return.
Penalty Fees Associated With Filing a Tax Return Late
A late tax return submission means that the deadline of April 18, 2017, or your extension deadline, was missed.
For not filing your tax return on time, you will incur a penalty of five percent of your unpaid taxes each month, or part of a month. The first day that the penalty starts being calculated is the day after the filing due date. The total penalty cannot exceed 25% of the total taxes paid.
If you file your tax return more than 60 days after the due date, the maximum penalty will be $135.00 or 100% of unpaid taxes, whichever amount is smaller.
Penalties and Fees Associated with Paying Taxes Owed Late
The due date for paying taxes owed is, once again, April 18, unless an extended date is given.
Not paying your owed taxes by the deadline will incur a penalty of a half-percent of unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month. Interest costs start the day after the due date.
How to Avoid or Reduce Penalty Fees
- Submit your tax return by the due date. There will be no penalty fee if there is a valid reason for not submitting the tax return or paying the penalty fee on time. This is based on approval by the IRS.
- If the amount of taxes owed is large and outside of your budget, the IRS will work with you to give you a few payment options. For instance, you may be able to pay a smaller amount or make payments in installments.
- If you received an extension from the IRS and have paid 90% of the taxes owed, there will be no penalty fee on the outstanding balance. Instead, the outstanding balance would be due on the extended due date.
Is It Possible to Check the Status of My Tax Return?
Yes. Once an electronic tax return filing is submitted, the tax refund status will be available within 24 hours. For a paper-based tax refund, it will be available after four weeks.
What Information is Needed to View my Tax Return Status?
Checking the status of your tax return filing is available through the IRS web site. The following information would need to be filled out:
- social security number,
- filing status (single, married, joint, etc.), and
- the refund amount
What Does “Received” Mean On My Tax Refund Status?
It means that the IRS has received your completed tax return filing and has started processing it.
What does “Sent” Mean?
It means tour tax return file has been processed and completed.
What Does “Approved” Mean?
It means that your tax refund has been approved and is on its way to you by mail or directly to your bank. If you are expecting a tax refund to go directly to your bank, then the status will indicate this.
Does the Tax Refund Status Update Often?
The tax refund status gets updated on a daily basis, normally at night.