Not Ready for Tax Day? Don’t Panic, Do Your Research

by Tinu Abayomi-Paul on April 14, 2013

Tax The advice I’m linking to is not necessarily the advice of a government body, tax attorney or a certified public accountant, nor am I either of those things. I am not an expert, just a fellow business owner.

PLEASE seek the help of a professional once you’ve done your research — this article is meant to help you conduct research only.

Particularly if you’re a new business owner, you might be so overwhelmed with figuring out what to do about taxes that you’re just now realizing you won’t make it by the deadline, midnight on Monday, April 15, 2013.

You might be tempted to ignore it, or panic, especially if you’ve read that you’re in a state that,¬†statistically speaking,¬†gets audited more often. I can tell you from experience that neither of those things will help your situation.

Take a few deep breaths, and do a some research — you may not have as much to worry about as you think. A lot of pre-tax anxiety comes from fear, and that fear comes from the unknown.

So make what’s unknown, known.

Find Out How You Should File Your Taxes

The first thing you will want to do is determine how you’re supposed to file. A single owner of an LLC, or a sole proprietorship may be able to file as an individual, although circumstances may differ if you are a joint-owner of a company, or if you chose to be taxed differently. If you own a corporation or are joint owner of a partnership, the taxation rules are a bit different.

USA.gov has an area of its site dedicated to helping you figure out if you need to file a tax return, complete with video tips. USA.gov links to this site for help finding forms for your state. The IRS has an area of their site dedicated to tax forms for individuals, as well as small businesses – and remember that you can file online. You can also read up on what happens if you file late, as a business.

There are even provisions on the federal level if you find that you can’t afford to pay your taxes on time.

File Your Taxes Now? Or File For an Extension?

The second thing you’ll want to do is figure out if you’re ready to file now, and if not, file for an extension, which you may even be able to do online, depending on what your adjusted gross income is. There have been some articles that not only suggest extensions for small business owners and other people with special circumstances, but actually recommend it.

Don’t send off any forms yet though.

Get a Second Opinion Before Filing – Even if You Waited Until the Last Minute

Your third move would be to consult a professional, especially if you find that you’re ready to file by the deadline.

If you can’t get an appointment with a live person tomorrow, try asking a pre-vetted professional online. Just be sure to do your own due diligence, and make sure there’s some guarantee that you’re interacting with someone who is qualified to answer your questions.

And remember, filing an extension doesn’t mean you won’t be paying your estimated taxes tomorrow. Explore your options if you know already that you can’t pay yet, but know that you may be subject to late fees or other penalties. It may be that much worse if you do nothing though.

Filing Your Taxes CAN Be Less Stressful

Now that you’ve

  • done your research,
  • gone through your paperwork,
  • filed any necessary paperwork,
  • and talked to a tax professional,

- you can send in a return or extension, or even file electronically over the web, with greater peace of mind. It may never be your favorite thing to do, but like many unfamiliar things, once you know what you’re doing, it can become an easier task to accomplish each time.

Especially if your business is complex, it’s not something you want to leave until the last minute in the future, though if you’re waiting for information from another party, sometimes that can’t be helped. In my case, knowing how taxation affected my first year of business allowed me to price my products and services with a much more educated mindset the following year.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Creative Commons License 401(K) 2012

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