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Are You Ready for Tax Day?

Tax Attorney Beverly Winstead has some faith-filled advice for April 18.

Tax Time clock
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

April 18 is almost here! Are you ready for tax day?

Hopefully, you’ve already filed your taxes, but if not, you’ve got a few more days left to either file your tax return or file an extention. Each person’s tax situation is unique, and it’s important to check with your own accountant or expert for advice on your specific situation. Hosea 4:6 tells us, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” Here are a few tips you need to know:

1) An extension to file is NOT an extension to pay.

If you are going to owe and you don’t file, the IRS will assess you a late filing penalty and a failure to pay penalty.  The penalty for filing late is normally 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late (but it won’t exceed 25%). The failure to pay penalty is ½ of 1 percent of your unpaid taxes. That penalty applies for each month or part of a month after the due date and starts accruing the day after the tax-filing due date. Filing an extension will relieve the late filing penalty but not the failure to pay penalty.

2) If you owe the IRS, you have options to pay.

If you owe and are unable to pay,  you do have options.  The options are:

Currently Non-Collectible status: This is an arrangement with the IRS where you do not pay anything because you cannot afford to and doing so would create an economic hardship on you.  It is forbearance by the IRS, a break from enforcement that can last years.

Installment AgreementInstallment Agreement is the most widely used method for paying an old IRS debt.  If you owe $50,000 or less, you should be able to get an installment payment plan for 72 months without submitting anything financial data to them. If you owe more than $50,000, you will have to negotiate with the IRS to get a payment plan and provide financial information.

Offer in Compromise: This is where you settle your tax bill for less than what you owe.  Here you will pay a portion of your tax bill in a lump sum payment or over the course of 1-2 years.  It all depends on the terms you negotiate. 

BankruptcyThis may allow for your taxes to be discharged.  In this case you will not pay the IRS at all.

3) You can still collect unpaid refunds from 3 years ago.

You have three years to file an original (or amended) tax return and still claim a tax refund since refunds expire 3 years from the original due date of the tax return.  This means that if you have not filed your 2011 tax return and you are due a refund you will not be able to claim it if you do not send it to the IRS before April 15, 2015.  

Finally, don’t forget to double check your social security number and sign your return! 

God wants you to be free from all the worrying and for that you’ll need more than hope and prayers. James 2:17 tells us, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  Now that you have the knowledge, it’s time to exercise your faith. 

There are lots of resources available for you to use to be free from the burden of owing taxes. Tax attorneys have the expertise to deal with IRS matters and most offer a free consultation. If you can’t afford an attorney, there are organizations, like low income taxpayer clinics, that offer free counsel and can help if you meet certain income requirements. You can also get free tax help through the IRS here.

Get back on track and live the abundant life God has called you to live!

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