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Tax day is here. Here’s what to do if you’re not ready.

Updated May 17, 2021 - 9:09 am

Tax Day is here , and local professionals are urging Nevadans to file their tax returns ASAP.

This year, the IRS pushed back its normal April 15 deadline to May 17, allowing Americans more wiggle room to file their 2020 tax return and make payments.

Teela McCullar, a member of the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants Board of Directors and director at Reno-based Barnard Vogler & Co., said tax preparers across the Silver State have been working longer hours the past several weeks to ensure Nevadans are filing their tax returns on time.

“Just between this year and last year, we have seen more of our clients and potential clients reaching out more at the last minute,” McCullar said. “People are just recovering with other things in their life, so taxes are not always at the top of their mind.”

McCullar said some Nevadans might have questions during this complex tax season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent tax law changes. It’s best, she said, to file returns as soon as possible. Sometimes, there are documents that are missing or issues that need to be sorted out.

Need more time?

Individuals who aren’t prepared to file their tax returns by Monday’s deadline should file an IRS extension, Form 4868, by Monday. It will provide an extension to Oct. 15.

But there is a caveat: While an extension might give you more time to file your tax returns, you still need to pay the estimated taxes owed by Monday.

“Extensions give you time to file; they’re not extensions of time to pay, so even if you file an extension, you’re still required to pay by Monday,” McCullar said.

If you don’t pay your tax by Monday, the IRS will charge an interest on the unpaid balance, on top of the income taxes. “If you have a large balance, it can kind of be significant,” McCullar said.

How can I file my tax returns?

For taxpayers filing a simple W-2, software such as TurboTax or walking into an H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt will do the trick, McCullar said. Or you can file your taxes online yourself for free with the IRS Free File Program if your adjusted gross income is $72,000 or less.

For Nevadans with a more complicated tax return, McCullar suggests speaking with a certified public accountant.

“Someone with investments, rentals, or they start getting into a level where there’s a lot going into it is usually where you know you’re in to be recommended for them to use a CPA,” McCullar said. “They obviously have the expertise to make sure that there’s nothing getting missed deduction-wise or anything of that nature.”

McCullar said some tax professionals have resumed in-person meetings with safety protocols in place. Some clients have submitted relevant documents — such as income statements, unemployment, retirement or receipt for expenses — by mail or by uploading to a secure online portal.

For taxpayers mailing in their documents to the IRS, the package must be postmarked by May 17.

The U.S. Department of Justice is urging taxpayers to chose their tax preparers wisely. The IRS has a directory of credentialed federal tax practitioners for each state on its website. McCullar also suggests the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants’s directory to find a CPA.

Unemployment waiver, child tax credit and more

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law in March by President Joe Biden provided taxpayers with several key provisions.

The law waives federal income taxes on up to $10,200 in unemployment benefits for people who earned under $150,000 in 2020. The IRS said taxpayers who filed early should not file an amended tax return as it will “automatically refund money to people who already filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation.”

The American Rescue Plan boosted the child tax credit, increasing it to $3,600 per child under age 6 and $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. The IRS said it uses prior-year tax returns to determine who qualifies for the credit, so if a 2020 return hasn’t been filed and processed, it will rely on 2019 returns. Families could see monthly checks from July through December.

McCullar said that some taxpayers will qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit if they did not get the stimulus money that they were entitled to.

“They have an opportunity to get those with their tax return refund if their income qualifies in 2020,” she said.

When will I receive my tax refund?

McCullar said that tax refunds could take a while longer because the IRS is facing severe backlogs. It’ll also be longer for taxpayers flagged by the agency.

Some tax practitioners are telling clients that it could be three to four weeks for their refund to come through. It should take about a week or two for those who chose direct deposit from the IRS.

“Obviously, I think some people are getting them sooner than that and some are taking longer,” she said. “You’re at the mercy of their system.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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