Tax season is nearly upon us, and this means it may be time to start getting your paperwork together to make sure you can file as effortlessly as possible.
Unless you’re an accountant, taxes aren’t especially fun to do: There can be a lot of number crunching and chasing down paperwork, and plus it sometimes feels like the government has designed it to be as confusing as possible.
Knowing this, the best way to get ahead on your taxes this year is to take note of the fast-approaching deadlines and get organized ASAP so you aren’t left stressing out at the last minute (like most people).
How you file your taxes will vary greatly depending on your line of work. For instance, if you are a freelancer or an independent contractor, you will likely be poring over your expenses and figuring out deductions, and trying to get a hold of your 1099s. If you’re a salaried employee, the process may be a bit more straightforward, and you may only need a W2 from your employer.
It’s a good idea to get an understanding of what and how you will be filing so that you can figure out which deadlines apply to you. If you’re a salaried employee, the process should be fairly simple. If you are a freelancer or contractor, perhaps slightly less so. Regardless of the nature of your work, you’re going to have to file taxes if you earned more than $12,000 in 2018.
So, read on for the most important dates to keep in mind to make sure you get organized, get started early, and get your taxes filed as quickly and painlessly as possible this year.
Deadline for W2s: January 31
The end of this month marks the deadline for employers to provide employees with their 2018 W-2s. Keep in mind that federal law requires all employers to send W-2 statements to their employees, regardless of how much you earned. These statements could be sent in paper or digitally, so keep an eye out in the mail. Also, employers are also required to file a copy of your W-2 with the IRS.
Deadline for 1099-MISC: January 31
If you are waiting on a one or more 1099-MISC forms before you can start putting your tax documents together, keep in mind that employers have a January 31st deadline to provide you with this form, providing there is an amount filled out for Box 7, Nonemployee Compensation.
Deadline for 1099 and 1096: February 28 or April 1
If an employer owes you a 1099 or 1096, their deadline to provide you with the form(s) is February 28 if filing by paper, but they have until April 1 if filed electronically.
Federal Tax Deadline: April 15
Tax Day 2019 is on April 15, which means you will have to file your federal taxes on or before this date in order to avoid penalties.
Extension Application Deadline: April 15
If your clients are late with sending your 1099s, or you’re feeling stressed and need more time to get yourself in order, April 15 is also the deadline to file an extension for 2018 federal taxes. In most cases, after filing an extension you will have until October 15, 2019 to finish up your taxes without a penalty.
Keep in mind that extensions on state tax will vary depending on where you live. While some states offer automatic extensions based on accepted federal extensions, other states may require taxpayers to file a different application form. Remember, if you don’t file for an extension, you’ll likely get hit with penalties — try out an online penalty calculator to get an idea of how much this could cost you.
Extended Tax Deadline: October 15
If you filed for a tax extension, you’re still eventually going to have to do your taxes. An extension grants you a grace period, but you still will have to file your tax return by October 15 to avoid penalties.