Taxes are a hassle. Dates and deadlines seem to sneak up without warning despite being relatively consistent from year to year. But getting organized and working on preparation throughout the year can make the traditional tax season less dreaded and much easier.
Keep these major tax dates in mind and mark them on your calendar. If the date falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will move to the next business day.
First Quarter: Prep Time and Paperwork
January 15: If you pay estimated taxes, you need to file your first quarterly tax payment of the year. By January 15, you must pay estimated taxes on last year’s fourth quarter earnings. If you don’t pay at least 90% of your estimated tax due, the IRS will charge you a penalty fee.
January 31: All 1099 forms and W-2 forms must be postmarked. If you’re an employer or vendor, make sure you send these forms. If you don’t receive forms within a week of this date, contact your employer or client to find out where your copies are.
February 15: If you filled out a W-4 form last year requesting not to have taxes withheld from your paycheck, you need to submit another W-4 no later than February 15 to continue that status.
February 28: By this date, you must send the IRS a hard copy of any 1099 you completed on paper (not electronically) for someone else.
Second Quarter: The Big Tax Day and More
April 1: If you completed a 1099 for someone else electronically, you need to e-file it with the IRS by this date.
April 1: You must take your first required minimum distribution (RMD) from your IRA or employer sponsored retirement plan if you turned 70 1/2 last year. However, each successive RMD must be taken annually by December 31. In other words, if you wait until April 1 to take last year’s RMD, you’ll have to take an additional RMD by December 31 of this year.
April 15: This is the big day. In most years, April 15 is the tax filing deadline for:
- Your federal income tax return (for the prior year)
- Filing a federal tax extension to October 15 – in some states, this will automatically trigger a state tax extension (check with your state to confirm that you receive an automatic extension)
- Making a contribution to your IRA or Roth IRA, SIMPLE IRA, SEP IRA, or individual 401k - see the maximum 401k and IRA contribution limits
- Making a contribution to a Coverdell education savings account
- Your second estimated tax payment covering the first quarter of the current year
- Filing state taxes in most states – check with your state for the tax filing deadline
June 15: If you’re a U.S. citizen, a resident alien, or on active military duty and living and working outside the country, you have until this date to file your return. You can alternately file for a federal tax extension to October 15 (you need to file for the extension by June 15).
June 15: Pay your estimated taxes for the second quarter of the current year.
Third and Fourth Quarters: Extensions and Last Chances
September 15: If you pay estimated taxes, your estimated tax payment is due for the third quarter of the current year. This is the final estimated tax payment you’ll make this year.
October 15: If you filed an extension, this date is your new tax filing deadline. If you still aren’t able to file, call the IRS. It’s also the deadline to re-characterize an IRA contribution.
December 31: This is the last day to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, contribute to a 529 college savings plan, and take your annual required minimum distribution (RMD), unless it’s your first.
It happens every year: Most of us scramble in the last few weeks before the tax filing deadline to make the date. Then, after the rush, we make a promise: Next year, it’ll be different. But is it? Use these dates and deadlines to make this the year you get organized. Mark your calendar and neatly file your receipts and paperwork to celebrate an easy tax season and an early refund.
What tools do you use to avoid missing deadlines and keep your tax documentation together throughout the year?
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