The Tax Filing Deadline is April 15th, 2014 but When Should You Mail Your Return or Have it Postmarked?

The tax deadline for 2013 is quickly approaching and I’m sure many of you who were scheduled to receive a tax refund have already filed and even cashed your refund check. But for those of you that owe money this year, the looming deadline isn’t going away. So if the tax filing deadline for 2013 taxes is April15th 2014 what does that really mean for filing and submitting your return and/or payment?

The Postmark Date

The good news is that a tax return delivered to the IRS by U.S. mail after the due date for the tax return is considered timely filed if the tax return was postmarked on or before the due date of the tax return. This is good news because that means you don’t have to submit your filing and payment a week in advance just to be sure it is in their hands by the deadline. So if you want, you can actually wait until the 15th to get everything in the mail provided the postmark on the envelope shows the 15th. While you can wait until the very last day to do so, I would recommend still mailing a day or two early just to be safe in the event of something coming up that doesn’t permit you to get to the post office or meet the last postal pickup for that day in order to get that day’s postmark.


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What About Extensions?

If you filed an extension, you are not off the hook. This extension is simply for filing the paperwork, not the tax payments you owe. If you have waited this long and still don’t know roughly how much you will owe I urge you to find out as soon as possible. You will still need to have your payment, or at least an estimated payment postmarked by the 15th in order to be considered as on time even if you have filed an extension or plan to file one.

The extension will at least prevent you from receiving a late filing penalty on your paperwork but interest will be charged on unpaid tax from the original due date of the tax return. So it is important to send at least an estimated payment before the deadline even if you have filed for an extension so you can avoid as much interest as possible. Here are a few options if you find you can’t pay your taxes by the time they are due.

In addition to interest, there is an issue with late payment penalties as well. This means it is very important to know fairly close to how much your payment will be. The IRS will not impose a late payment penalty so long as the estimated payment you send is at least 90% of the actual payment you owe and that the remainder of the payment is submitted before the end of the extension deadline. So, if you expect your tax payment to be around $1,000 don’t send them a check for $200 as an estimated payment while you continue to work on your return in the extension period.

What You Can do to Avoid Payment Problems Next Year

If you are employed and have taxes withheld each paycheck, the first plan of attack is to adjust your tax withholding. This is done via form W-4 which you should get from your employer and then notify them of any changes. I talked about how to calculate and update your withholding in the past, and this is the best way to make paying your taxes manageable.

If you are self-employed or already file quarterly estimated taxes then it is up to you to make sure you are putting enough money aside to make the appropriate payments each quarter so you aren’t stuck with a bill at the end of the year. Understandably this can be difficult to do when you have income that fluctuates, so the best you can do is estimate what you will owe to the best of your ability. If possible try to withhold a bit more than you think you may need to so that any unexpected changes in income or expenses later in the year won’t throw you off. It is better to err on the side of caution and get a small refund at the end of the year instead of a surprise tax bill.

Doing your own taxes can be an effective way to save time and money. Using the popular tax software H&R Block at Home or TurboTax, you can even start your tax preparation online for free. Then if you decide to, you can purchase the full version and even e-file right online. Getting a head start will ensure you don’t run too close to the tax deadline.

Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle

My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.

34 comments
jodene14
jodene14

To file for a refund it must be within 3 years from when the tax year was due.  My question is what was the 

OFFICIAL last date to file for 2008?  Was it April 17, 2012 due to the extension OR was it April 15, 2012 because 2008 was due April 15, 2009?

 

I mailed my 2008 tax return on April 17 2012.  I received my refund June 18, 2012.

 

Yesterday (Sept 21st)

I received a letter from the IRS stating the original tax return (2008) was filed more than 3 years after the

due date, sending the refund was a 'processing error' . Demanding the full refund amount be returned by

October 15th.

 

Do they keep the mailing envelope?  It would have the 17th postmark on it.

 

Thanks

Jodene 

 

 

 

 

 

mr BIIRCH
mr BIIRCH

Same thing happened to me 2008 postmarked the 17th and denied based on the day they got it contrary to the IRS website that even had a example story too. I appealed and now 30 days later no response. How many people are they doing this to I wonder.

blacina
blacina

I just got a leter from the nystate tax dept. stating that I am denied my 2008 refund that was mailed to them on April 15th, 2012, exactly 3-years from the time it was originally due, which was April 15th, 2009.  They say in the letter you have 3-years to file, but they put on the letter that I filed the 20th, which is the date they received it, not the postmark date of the 15th.  Is the postmark date the valid date, as I had always thought, or is the date they receive it, if it is late, the valid date?   Thanks to anyone who can help.

Nathan
Nathan

If I'm filing for a refund instead of owing will there be a problem or any fines for sending it in the mail a few days late?

jose
jose

Can you avoid penalties by filing for an extension but not making the mandatory payment by 4/18? I know interest will accrue, but is there anyway to avoid the penalty?

db
db

wait if it's not due until the 18th, doesn't that mean the payment check needs to be mailed and postmarked on the 18th?! not the 15th?!

Reh
Reh

I owe money to the IRS. What is the best way to mail the check? Should it be normal post or registered? Can someone please advise?

theresa judkins
theresa judkins

how can you find out if your refund has been sent out

brendaB
brendaB

Filing taxes are near now. Profits are down during the height of tax season for preparation icon H&R Block, which is likely due to the business having dropped the ability to offer customers cash loan against tax refund checks.

Roxanne
Roxanne

Just be sure to file your taxes even if you don't make the minimum requirement. I didn't for a year I made over $2000 less than the minimum to file. Now, the IRS says I owe them 26% of what I made that year. I agree with Joe on this one, God Bless the Robber-barons that run this fine country. Let them eat cake!

Robert
Robert

"What is the best date to file, to minimise the chances of the ( random ) audit?"

Is there really such a thing?

vitto
vitto

hi,
i am american citizen,...living abroad ...haven`t been in the us for the whole year and haven`t earned any income abroad.
during this year i have traded a lot on the us stock exchange ... but probably as you know it was not a good year for a lot of traders me inkluded:)i ended up the year with a $ 3000 loss
do i have to file taxes???

Joe
Joe

I owe about $4,000 this year, but I am closing on a first time house in May so I qualify for $8,000. Do I need to send my payment by 4-15 or can I file something stating closing date so I don't have to write a huge check when I can take that cash for closing costs.

Neal Kluge
Neal Kluge

What is the best date to file, to minimise the chances of the ( random ) audit?

Manuel Davis
Manuel Davis

It is funny to see how many people wait until the last day to file. Have you ever went to the post office the night of April 15th? Every year there is a line. One important thing you should also do if you are mailing your return is pay the little bit of extra money to send it certified mail. If your return gets lost in the mail and you have no proof that you sent it, it is the same thing as not filing and if you owe taxes you will likely be hit with large failure to file penalties. Certified mail is cheap insurance to prevent this.

sathish chary
sathish chary

how to submit the TDS(Tax Dedection Sorce) And How To Caliclate tds .whre is submited

joe
joe

Yeah except for that whole cancellation of debt thing. Dispute a debt have it removed from your credit record and 8 years later the government sends a check to mr big corporate lender who just wrote it off and surprise you owe 4k in income that is fictional. I have no job , no health care , no money , will the take blood can I empty trash at the IRS office until my debt is paid ? Oh well at least when they send me to prison I'll have bed and some food , Can't say I'm looking forward to the rape though. God bless America.

The Happy Rock
The Happy Rock

Thanks Jeremy. I was late getting the stuff to the CPA this year, so I am just paying what we owe and filing later. I was going to google if the postmark was what counted and you beat me to the punch. Thanks.

@Thomas - This is how it works. Married with varied incomes get the marriage tax penalty. There isn't such a thing but they get hosed. We owed over $3,000 the first couple years of marriage when we were both used to getting money back. I had to claim 0 exemptions + $50. Yes, I had to have them take an extra $50 a week out just so we didn't owe too much. The tax systems needs to be so much less complicated.

PENNY
PENNY

If you are getting a refund, do you still have to file by April 15th?

Jeff
Jeff

Thanks for this article... great information. If you do happen to need a tax extension this season, check out FileLater (http://filelater.com). It's the easiest way to get a tax extension online!

Jess
Jess

I am glad I came across this! I did my taxes weeks ago, but I have procrastinated sending in that big fat check as well. I got all my stuff together now and dropped it off today, but for a moment I thought, 'S$#@$@, does the IRS have to have my payment by the 15th? Or postmarked by the 15th? Oh No!' I wanted to double check, so much relief here now! :)

Thomas
Thomas

ugh. I owe a TON this year and am holding off as long as possible. I have changed my w4 for this year, but I'm not sure it will be enough.

Word to the wise - if you and your spouse are on opposite ends of the earning spectrum but are pushed into a higher bracket, make the changes now. I earn twice as much as my wife and since she gets taxed at a lower rate, we got hosed.

David
David

Twice I've filed early and had to file an ammended return later because I received another 1099 or Schedule K. I think I'll wait until April 15th next year.

Mike
Mike

Why would you not mail it when you're finished? The IRS lets you pay any tax bill by direct deposit and they won't initiate the transaction until the 15th anyway. Are you a glutton for post-office-line-waiting?

Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck
Beyond Paycheck to Paycheck

Jeremy,
Great post. I've always got a kick from those owing taxes mailing their return several weeks early. They'd never do that with their mortgage or car payment!

For self-employed folks whose monthly income may vary significantly but who expect to, on an annual basis, make about what they did last year (or even a bit more), there is a simple solution: just pay 4 quarterly payments each 25% of last year's tax liability. No penalties and no messy calculations.

Jeremy
Jeremy

Jose, not quite. If you file by the deadline or file for an extension you'll at least avoid the failure to file penalty, which is a stiff 5% per month penalty. But if you file on time it doesn't waive your requirement to pay on time. So if you don't make a payment by the deadline you will be assessed the failure to pay penalty, which is a much lower 0.5% per month penalty.

So at the very least file, or file for an extension on time to avoid the biggest penalty. Then pay as soon as possible after that.

Jeremy
Jeremy

Technically, it doesn't matter how you mail it as long as it arrives. But if you ever want a paper trail and proof it was sent and delivered/accepted, it's always nice to have that proof if something happens.

Personally, I switched to EFTPS a few years ago and haven't mailed a check since. It's probably too late to go the electronic route for this year, though.

cj
cj

Whether you have to pay or not you are required to file a return no matter where you live or who long you've been living there. I've been an expat for over 25yrs and found this out after years, and believe me it was quite an ordeal. So best ot got on track ASAP. Call the IRS and/or a certified accountant near you.
Good luck.

Jay
Jay

i am getting a refund - do i have to file by the 18th - or get an extension - or just send it in after the 18th

MS
MS

If you're getting a credit and all your paperwork is in/complete - file earlier so that you can get your return earlier. If you owe/have to make a payment - Mail it on April 18th!

F Bob-omb
F Bob-omb

You're begging to be audited. You should be tracking and reporting all income with or without a 1099. If you have to revise your return because you received a 1099, it looks like you are only reporting the income which is being reported to the IRS. Good luck with that...

Jeremy
Jeremy

Even if you're getting a refund you have to file by the deadline, file for an extension by the deadline, or have it in the mail and postmarked by the deadline.

Roe
Roe

What if you posted it after 18th April, is there a penalty for that? Even if you are getting a refund?