Tax-filing time is upon us once again.
Millions of Americans are suddenly realizing that the dreaded April 15 (April 18 this year) deadline is next week. It's National Panic Week.
The panic can be particularly acute for people struggling with debt burdens and unexpected tax liabilities. So let's review some tax-wise ideas which we hope can help relieve the panic:
1. Don't forget to make sure you have taken all of your allowable deductions and, if eligible, the earned income credit. You may not actually owe any tax.
2. If you cannot pay your taxes due on April 18, go ahead and file your return and pay later. If you do not file, you're charged up to 5 percent per month penalties plus interest. On the other hand, if you file owing tax, you pay interest but you can file Form 9465 to request an installment payment of your taxes due over as much as 72 months.
3. Remember that debt forgiveness is not taxable to insolvent people. Use Form 982 if you received any debt forgiveness forms 1099.
4. If you just can't get all of your information together by April 18th, you can do what the rich do and file for an automatic six-month extension using Form 4868. You will pay interest and a small penalty if you do not guess your tax correctly and owe money when you finally file your return.
Like it or not, it is our duty as citizens, and good advice, to "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." If the good citizenship reason is unappealing, Jesus's second meaning was that giving Caesar his due protects you from Caesar. Our modern Caesar can garnish your wages, take your cash, seize your home and occasionally it puts people in jail. Protect yourself by making an honest effort to comply with the law. You can and should use every legal means to minimize your taxes, but don't lie on your tax return, and don't fail to file a tax return.
So take an aspirin and go back to work on your taxes. You can turn National Panic Week into National Got-It-Done Week, or at least National Extension Week.
Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God, and the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage, and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.
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