April 15, 2012 //
Filing and extension can give you more time, but you must still pay on time
— It might take another 150 years for the U.S. Congress to simplify the tax code, but we can thank Washington, DC for something it did 150 years ago for this year’s tax deadline extension.
On April 16, 1862, the District of Columbia enacted the “Compensated Emancipation Act,” which freed all the slaves in the District and provided monetary compensation to the slave owners who let them go.
The day has been celebrated ever since, and in 2005 it was declared an official public holiday in Washington, DC.
The good news for taxpayers is that the combination of April 15 falling on Sunday this year and Emancipation Day falling on the following day means that federal tax returns can be submitted or postmarked as late as Tuesday, April 17, 2012 to meet this year’s tax deadline.
“There may not be much good news or happiness around tax time, but this is a ray of sunshine that everyone – especially procrastinators – should be thankful for,” says National Society of Accountants (NSA) Executive Vice President John Ams. “It also means that professional tax preparers have a few extra days to prepare returns, which should help many of their clients.”
There is even more good news for anyone who just can’t wade through all the complicated tax instructions and submit their complete tax return on time. Taxpayers can get an automatic six-month tax-filing extension by filing Form 4868
, an IRS form available on www.IRS.gov
. Filing this form gives taxpayers until October 15, 2012 to file their return.
Still more good news: Nearly two-thirds of professional tax preparers do not charge their clients a fee to file an extension, according to an NSA survey. Even if they do charge a fee, it only averages $36.
One important note, however: This is an extension of time to file, not an extension of time to pay. To get the extra time to file their income tax return, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on Form 4868 and pay any amount due. Be sure to at least file the form even if you can’t pay immediately, because penalties are higher if you don’t file the form.
NSA has a searchable database of professional tax preparers who can help taxpayers file an extension and prepare their returns. Visit www.nsacct.org
and click on “Find a Professional.” More information is also available by calling NSA at 800-966-6679.
NSA and its affiliates represent 30,000 members who provide accounting, auditing, tax preparation, financial and estate planning, and management services to approximately 19 million individuals and business clients. Most members are sole practitioners or partners in small- to medium-size accounting firms. NSA protects the public by requiring its members to adhere to a strict code of ethics and maintain an annual continuing education regimen. Learn more at www.nsacct.org