April is a very busy tax month. There are only a few days left to get ready to meet your deadline for tax return filings. But other deadlines apply as well. Below are some important dates:
April 1 – Last Day to Withdraw Required Minimum Distribution
Last day to withdraw 2015’s required minimum distribution from Traditional or SEP IRAs for taxpayers who turned 70½ in 2015. Failing to make a timely withdrawal may result in a penalty equal to 50% of the amount that should have been withdrawn. Taxpayers who became 70½ before 2015 were required to make their 2015 IRA withdrawal by December 31, 2015.
April 11 – Report Tips to Employer
If you are an employee who works for tips and received more than $20 in tips during March, you are required to report them to your employer on IRS Form 4070 no later than April 11. Your employer is required to withhold FICA taxes and income tax withholding for these tips from your regular wages. If your regular wages are insufficient to cover the FICA and tax withholding, the employer will report the amount of the uncollected withholding in box 12 of your W-2 for the year. You will be required to pay the uncollected withholding when your return for the year is filed.
April 18 – Individual Tax Returns Due
File a 2015 income tax return (Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic six-month extension of time to file the return, please call this office.
Caution: The extension gives you until October 17, 2016 to file your 2015 1040 return without being liable for the late filing penalty. However, it does not avoid the late payment penalty; thus, if you owe money, the late payment penalty can be severe, so you are encouraged to file as soon as possible to minimize that penalty. Also, you will owe interest, figured from the original due date until the tax is paid. If you have a refund, there is no penalty; however, you are giving the government a free loan, since they will only pay interest starting 45 days after the return is filed. Please call this office to discuss your individual situation if you are unable to file by the April 18 due date.
Note: The normal April 15 due date is a federal holiday in the District of Columbia, so for almost all individuals their 2015 Form 1040 returns are not due until the next business day, which is Monday, April 18 (except residents of Massachusetts and Maine, who have until April 19 to file).April 15 – Household Employer Return Due
April 18 – Estimated Tax Payment Due (Individuals)
It is time to make your first quarter estimated tax installment payment for the 2016 tax year. Our tax system is a “pay-as-you-go” system. To facilitate that concept, the government has provided several means of assisting taxpayers in meeting the “pay-as-you-go” requirement. These include:
- Payroll withholding for employees;
- Pension withholding for retirees; and
- Estimated tax payments for self-employed individuals and those with other sources of income not covered by withholding.
When a taxpayer fails to prepay a safe harbor (minimum) amount, they can be subject to the underpayment penalty. This penalty is equal to the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points, and the penalty is computed on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
Federal tax law does provide ways to avoid the underpayment penalty. If the underpayment is less than $1,000 (the “de minimis amount”), no penalty is assessed. In addition, the law provides “safe harbor” prepayments. There are two safe harbors:
- The first safe harbor is based on the tax owed in the current year. If your payments equal or exceed 90% of what is owed in the current year, you can escape a penalty.
- The second safe harbor is based on the tax owed in the immediately preceding tax year. This safe harbor is generally 100% of the prior year’s tax liability. However, for taxpayers whose AGI exceeds $150,000 ($75,000 for married taxpayers filing separately), the prior year’s safe harbor is 110%.
Example: Suppose your tax for the year is $10,000 and your prepayments total $5,600. The result is that you owe an additional $4,400 on your tax return. To find out if you owe a penalty, see if you meet the first safe harbor exception. Since 90% of $10,000 is $9,000, your prepayments fell short of the mark. You cannot avoid the penalty under this exception.
However, in the above example, the safe harbor may still apply. Assume your prior year’s tax was $5,000. Since you prepaid $5,600, which is greater than 110% of the prior year’s tax (110% = $5,500), you qualify for this safe harbor and can escape the penalty.
This example underscores the importance of making sure your prepayments are adequate, especially if you have a large increase in income. This is common when there is a large gain from the sale of stocks, sale of property, when large bonuses are paid, when a taxpayer retires, etc. Timely payment of each required estimated tax installment is also a requirement to meet the safe harbor exception to the penalty. If you have questions regarding your safe harbor estimates, please call this office as soon as possible.
CAUTION: Some state de minimis amounts and safe harbor estimate rules are different than those for the Federal estimates. Please call Alex Franch in this office for particular safe harbor rules for Massachusetts.
April 18 – Last Day to Make Contributions
Last day to make contributions to Traditional and Roth IRAs for tax year 2015.
Now do you understand why April is a very busy tax month?
It is because the due dates are different this year, and because the different rules apply for different tax events. As mentioned before, if you have any questions regarding your taxes or you need to get them filed before the Massachusetts April 15th deadline or IRS April 19th deadline, call Alex Franch, BS EA at 781.849.7200 for additional information. He understands the details involved with the Earned Income Credit and the IRS requirements. Worthtax has locations in Quincy, Weymouth and Dedham.