By Johnny Jackson
The Oct. 15 extension deadline to file a 2007 income tax return is fast approaching. It means that several post offices across the state are going to see increased business today into early next week.
As many as 250,000 Georgians are expected to file their income tax returns by the deadline. Taxpayers who, earlier this year, requested deadline extensions to file their 2007 returns, must have them postmarked by midnight, Oct. 15, unless they were affected by Georgia's, May 19 severe storms and tornados, and, thus, qualify for the Nov. 19 extension deadline.
"The extension itself is just for filing the returns," said Mark Green, spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Each year, thousands of Georgians are unable to file before the IRS's regular April 15 deadline. The six-month time frame between deadlines allows individuals an opportunity to gather the required documents for filing their returns, which are typically more complex than the average return filed by April 15.
"Generally, these individuals are still waiting for documentation and statements that may affect their tax returns," Green said. "It's just a matter of collecting the paper work."
Even with the six-month extension, however, there will be those who miss the deadline, for one reason or another, and some taxpayers may still not have all of their documentation by the deadline.
"It is in the best interest for the taxpayer to file the return, even if they don't have all of their paper work, to avoid penalties and interest," he added.
Taxpayers, who had a tax liability as of April 15, may be assessed penalties and interest particularly if they have not filed by the Oct. 15, the final day for taking action.
"Even though you don't have the money to pay, still file," Green continued. "Doing that will help curtail the penalties for failing to file and failure to pay. It is never too late to file. [But] now is the time to prepare the return with what you have."
While penalties do not apply in years that a taxpayer receives a refund, he or she should file as soon as possible to avoid penalties, in case, money is owed.
Whether paying with a timely, filed tax return, or filing late and paying late -- after receiving a bill from the IRS -- taxpayers are encouraged to pay the taxes they owe in full. Taxpayers may also be able to qualify for an extension of time to pay, an installment agreement, temporary delay, or "Offer in Compromise," based on their financial circumstances.
If taxes are not paid, and no effort is made to pay them, the IRS can ask the taxpayer to take action to pay the taxes, such as selling assets. It can also levy the taxpayer's bank accounts or wages.
Taxpayers with tax liabilities can make payments by credit card, electronic funds transfer, check, money order, cashier's check, or cash.
"For the most part, here in Georgia, the tax returns have been on target," Green said. "We would recommend that individuals file electronically. More Georgians are now filing online [at www.IRS.gov] than in previous years. By filing electronically, tax payers can be sure that their returns are done more accurately."
On the net:
Internal Revenue Service: www.IRS.gov