Sponsor spotlight: Owe taxes? Make payment arrangements now

Nancy Ekrem

If you owe taxes on your 2018 tax return, the due date to make the payment is Monday, April 15. Miss this deadline by just one day and the IRS will charge you interest and penalties! Don’t risk adding unnecessary dollars to your tax bill. Review the payment options below and make a plan now to ensure your payment arrangements are completed before the deadline.

Options to pay immediately

  • IRS direct pay. This free service allows you to pay your balance online using a checking or savings account.
  • Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). This free service also allows payment from a checking or savings account, but you can pay online OR by phone.
  • Debit or credit card payment. The IRS has three authorized third-party processors to accept payment by debit or credit card, but they charge a fee. Debit card transactions have flat fees that range from $2 to $4. Credit cards are more costly at 2 percent of the entire transaction.
  • Check or money order. These payments can be made either in person or through the mail. Make the check or money order payable to the United States Treasury.
  • Cash payments. Cash payments are accepted at some IRS offices or participating PayNearMe locations. Do not send cash through the mail!

Options if you can’t pay the full amount

If you are unable to make the full payment, it’s recommended that you pay as much as you can now, and set up a payment plan to handle the remaining balance. If you are in this situation, here are your options:

  • Online payment agreement. If you owe $50,000 or less in total taxes, interest and penalties, you can apply online for a payment agreement. Often times, this can be set up in just a few minutes. Setup fees, interest and penalties will be added to your outstanding balance.
  • Installment agreement. With an installment agreement, payments can be withheld as a payroll deduction or taken directly from your bank account. Acceptance is less restrictive for installment agreements, so if you aren’t eligible for an online payment agreement, you might still be able to get an installment agreement. Setup fees, interest and penalties still apply.
  • Delaying collection. If the IRS determines you are unable to pay, it may temporarily delay collection of the tax debt. A delayed collection does not change the amount due, it simply allows time for your situation to improve before you are required to make the payment. Penalties and interest will continue to accrue until the payment is made in full.
  • Offer in compromise. If you meet certain criteria, you may be able to settle your tax bill for less than the amount you owe. The IRS considers your ability to pay, income, expenses and asset equity when determining if you qualify. You can use the pre-qualifier tool to see if you are a candidate.

Where’s my Refund?

The popular “Where’s My Refund” feature on the IRS website allows you to see the status of your refund after filing your income tax return.

What you should know

  1. Refunds of e-filed returns usually take 10 to 21 days to process. Paper returns take longer than e-filed returns. The IRS states that 90 percent of refunds are processed within this 21-day time period.
  2. Original refund processing projections can change. This can be due to processing backlogs, or errors in your tax return.
  3. Sometimes a delay is a good thing. The IRS acknowledges there is a huge increase in identity fraud as thieves try to steal tax withholdings. The IRS is using their data match programs to catch as much of this illegal activity as possible. Because of this, if the IRS is suspicious there is fraudulent activity, they will hold up processing your refund.
  4. No shutdown delay. The recent government shutdown did delay many IRS activities, but refunds are expected to be issued within the normal timeframe.

Checking your refund status

In the meantime, if you wish to check on the status of your refund this is what you should know.

Go to: www.irs.gov/refunds and click on “Check My Refund Status”

When to check

  • 24 hours after an e-filed tax return confirmation
  • 4 weeks after a mailed tax return is sent

What you need to provide

  • Social Security number
  • Filing status
  • Exact refund amount

Remember, the information provided to you by the IRS is not a guarantee of payment. So please fight the urge to spend your refund before you receive it. Unfortunately, no amount of calling or checking will change the speed of returning your money. With 150 million tax returns processed each year, sometimes all you can do is wait.

— By Nancy Ekrem, Managing Shareholder
Dewar Meeks + Ekrem

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