Filing An Income Tax Return Extension Will Delay Your Tax Rebate Check
Published 4/10/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
It's that time of the year again and it's looming large. April 15, tax day - the day we take our hard earned money and pay our annual emperor's tribute to Uncle Sam and the United States government. For most working people, April 15 day is the deadline for filing our tax returns to claim the tax refunds that were withheld by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in excess for most of the year. This year is extra special since there's an extra bonus and incentive twist waiting for us. This year we have the 2008 economic stimulus stimulus rebate qualification to contend with.
The IRS has already stated that taxpayers who wish to receive their tax rebate payment in timely accordance with the official tax rebate payment schedule must file by April 15, 2008. Currently, the economic stimulus rebate will be issued according to the last two digits of the primary tax filer's Social Security Number. People who chose to receive their tax refunds via direct deposit will enjoy speedy priority and will be among the first to receive the payments starting May 2 and lasting until May 16. For those of you who chose the slower paper check option, your stimulus payment check won't get to you until the direct deposit crowd have gotten theirs. Paper checks won't be sent out until May 16, and lasting all the way into July 11.
How Do I Request An Extension To File My Federal Income Tax Return?
If for whatever reason you cannot file your 2007 return by the due date, you may be able to get an automatic 6 month extension of time to file. The official directions to filing for a tax return extension and information about related late filing penalties are located on the IRS website. Essentially, you must file Form 4868 Application For Automatic Extension Of Time To File U.S. Income Tax Return by the tax filing due date, usually April 15. A granted extension will allow you to file your income tax return by the later date of October 15, 2008. Note that special rules may apply if you are living outside the United States, or out of the country when the filing extension expires, or if you are serving in a combat zone such as Iraq or Afghanistan. Be sure to file on time or request a proper time extension. If you don't, the IRS will slap interest and penalties on your unpaid tax liability.
However, you must be aware that any grant of extension of time to file your return does not grant you any extension of time to pay your tax liability. This means even if you are permitted to file past April 15, 2008, you must still pay your estimated tax liability by that date. Those who owe taxes must make reasonable payment when they file the extension either by mailing a check or by making an electronic money transfer. If you don't make payment by April 15, beware the mighty wrath of the IRS. If you do not submit payment for at least 90% of your total tax bill, factoring all prior tax withholdings, estimated payments, and additional payments, the IRS will hit you with an interest and penalty stick - and it's a big one. You will be charged late payment interest and late payment penalties for each month the unpaid tax liability remains outstanding, up to a whopping 25% penalty of the total unpaid tax liability!
For those of you who reasonably anticipate a tax refund, you don't have to worry about penalties, although by dragging it out you are essentially giving the IRS an interest free loan.
When Will Those Who Request An Income Tax Filing Extension Receive Their Tax Rebate Checks?
Unlike most of the usual governmental knuckle and foot dragging we usually see, the IRS is actually under substantial pressure and governmental poking to get these tax rebate direct deposits and payment checks out as soon as possible. The whole point of the rebate is to get them into the hands of Americans so we can start pumping some fast cash into our battered economy that's already showing sickly signs of a recession (yes I think we are already in one). As such, even if you were to request a filing extension, I don't anticipate the IRS waiting too long to send you your economic stimulus payment.
However, as tax rebate checks will only be sent beginning in May to taxpayers who timely filed their income tax returns, filing for an extension will inevitably delay your rebate payment as the IRS will not issue rebate checks for a taxpayer unless and until a 2007 federal income tax return has been filed. The IRS has indicated that people who file income tax returns after April 15 and receive a refund can expect to receive their economic stimulus payments in about two weeks after receiving their tax refunds, but not before the date they would have received their payment if the return had been processed by April 15, 2008. Despite the IRS' somewhat ambiguity on the timetable of tax rebates for extension filers, I think taking into consideration the urgency of these rebates, those who file their tax returns as post-April 15 extensions should expect to receive their tax rebates within a month after their returns have been filed.
Remember, if you want to receive your economic stimulus rebate payment before the end of the year, you must file your tax return by the 6 month extension deadline of Oct. 15, 2008 at the very latest. If you delay and file your tax return after the extension deadline, you may need to rely on the tax rebate amendment option when you file your 2008 income tax form on April 15, 2009.