The 105th day of the year (106th on a leap-year) is always known for one thing and one thing only – TAXES. The US government has declared April 15th as the very last day a tax return can be filed, without penalty, with some exceptions of course.
Federal income tax was first introduced during the Civil War in 1861, as a way to help fund the war. The Revenue Act of 1861 stated that income tax “shall be due and payable on or before the thirteenth day of June” and at the time, only the very wealthy were taxed. As time progressed, the 16th amendment of the United States Constitution was ratified to state that Congress had the right to tax all incomes. When the ratification occurred (1913), the filing deadline for individuals was March 1st, which was later moved to March 15th. Finally, in 1955, Congress moved tax day to April 15th, where it currently sits. Should the 15th of April fall on a weekend, tax day is the first available business day thereafter.
So what happens if today comes and goes, and you’ve decided not to file your tax return this year because you owe too much money? Well, for every month you decide not to file a tax return, you will owe an additional 5% penalty, which can grow for up to five months. So in the end, you’ll receive a 25% penalty, plus other possible fines, fees and even imprisonment. Even if you cannot pay your current tax bill, you NEED to, at the very least, file your tax return, as the penalty for filing and not paying is significantly lower.
Procrastinating until the last second certainly isn’t what it used to be. The post office is sending less and less mail these days and tax returns are no different. The long lines that you might have to wait on if filing on April 15th are no more, as over 90 million individuals are expected to file their taxes online this year. If you are one of the many that wait until the last day to file your taxes, you still have a few great options online that from companies that can do it free of charge.
H&R Block – Similar to what Turbo Tax provides, the brick and mortar brand of H&R Block also has a free, e-file option for your tax return. I decided to file my return through H&R Block this year and the process was a lot smoother than Turbo Tax, so it’s highly recommended.
Turbo Tax – TurboTax offers a free version of its software for those filing form 1040EZ or a very simple 1040. Online tax filing with e-file is included in the free package, although the state software and filing costs extra. Turbo Tax also has upgraded packages that can help you with a more detailed return, if you need. One additional benefit you might find cool, if you have an iPhone is a newly launched app called “MyTaxRefund” that allows users to track their refund and application status. Strangely enough, the application seems to have H&R Block colors, as you can see below.