Bill

File Your Taxes Late With No Penalty

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Didn't file your 2015 taxes by April 18, 2016? Yes, tax day was the 18th this year instead of the 15th. No worries, we'll let you in on an industry secret – if you're getting a refund, you can file for up to 3 years with no late fees or penalties! If you owe additional taxes, your penalties are racking up so file your tax return as soon as possible to stop the clock on them. Either way, it's not too late to file your 2015 taxes. Read more about your specific situation below.

If you're getting a refund on your 2015 tax return:

  • You can file through April 18, 2019 (October 18, 2019 if you filed an extension) with no late fees or penalties.  
  • The IRS stops accepting e-files for 2015 returns in November 2016.  If you don't file by then, you'll need to print and file by mail.  Don't worry, we'll walk you through that, too.  
  • If you don't file by 2019, you forfeit your refund.
  • Your refund is an interest free loan you've given Uncle Sam, so why give him any longer to pay you back?  And it’s not a small loan – the average refund is around $2,800 this year!  File today and get your refund back!

If you owe additional 2015 taxes:

  • There is no penalty if you filed an extension and paid 90% or more of taxes owed by April 18, 2016 as long as you file your return by October 18, 2016.
  • A late filing penalty applies if you owe taxes and didn't file your return or an extension by April 18, 2016.
    • The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.
    • The late filing penalty is 10 times higher than the late payment penalty. If you can't pay your tax bill and didn't file an extension, at least file your return as soon as possible! You can always amend it later.
    • A late payment penalty applies if you didn't pay 90% or more of taxes owed by April 18, 2016, whether you filed an extension or not.
      • The late payment penalty is 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.

If you're not sure if you owe or are getting a refund in 2015:

  • If there's a chance you owe, the penalties are racking up, so don't wait another day.
  • Most of our customers complete their taxes in minutes, so file now and get it over with.
File Your 2015 Taxes Now

 

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Don't File a Tax Extension, File Your Return

Haven't filed your taxes yet?  Considering filing a tax extension?  Read this article before you do, because tax extensions are fool's gold.  Why? You may not need to file an extension and if you do file an extension, you still have to pay the taxes you owe. The following info applies to federal tax returns, many states have different rules.  

File Your Taxes Now

 

tax extension

 

Why Don't I Need to File a Tax Extension?

Tax extensions are one of the most misunderstood options you have when filing your taxes. There are two important reasons that filing a tax extension is a waste of time:

  1. If you're getting a refund, as two-thirds of all taxpayers are, you are not required to file a tax extension if you choose to file your taxes after April 15th.  You have three years to file your return with no late fees or penalties.  April 15th is a payment deadline, not necessarily a filing deadline.
  2. If you're NOT getting a refund (you owe additional taxes), you still have to pay at least 90% of the taxes you owe by April 15th.  That's right, an extension does't buy you any extra time to pay the taxes you owe.  Plus, you still have to prepare enough of your tax return to determine if you owe and how much you owe.  Once you've done this much work, you might as well go the last mile and just finish and file your return.

 

So What Should I Do Instead of Filing a Tax Extension?

File your tax return!  As mentioned above, if you're getting a refund there is no need to file an extension.  Don't get us wrong, we're not suggesting that you extend the interest free loan you've given Uncle Sam, but if you can't file by 4/15 and you're sure you're getting a refund - don't sweat it.  Just file when.  We do recommend you file in 2015, as most tax software companies raise their prices for prior year returns.

If you owe additional taxes, then you definitely should file by April 15th. Otherwise you must:  1) File an extension by April 15, 2015, 2) pay 90% or more of taxes owed by April 15th, 3) File your return and pay remaining taxes owed by October 15, 2015.

  • If you don't file your return or an extension by April 15, 2015, a late filing penalty applies:
    • The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.
    • The late filing penalty is 10 times higher than the late payment penalty. If you can’t pay your tax bill and didn’t file an extension, at least file your return as soon as possible! You can always amend it later.
  • And, a late payment penalty applies if you don’t pay 90% or more of taxes owed by April 15, 2015, whether you filed an extension or not.
    • The late payment penalty is 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.

In other words, you're not getting off the hook for the taxes you owe and you're going to expose yourself to more late fees, penalties, and headaches.

 

What Else Do I Need To Know About Tax Extensions?

As mentioned above, an extension does NOT give you any extra time to pay the IRS the taxes you owe.  If you're stuck and unable to pay the taxes you owe, contact the IRS immediately and work out a payment plan.

We're not advocating filing late or taking unnecessary risks.  If there is any chance you owe additional taxes, you need to pay them by April 15th and file your tax return or an extension.  We recommend you spend that time and energy completing your return, not filing an extension.

 

File Your Taxes Now

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Tax Day 2015

tax filing deadline

 The deadline to file your taxes in 2015, also known as Tax Day, is April 15th.

 

Tax Day 2015

April 15th.  If you know one date about taxes, it's this one.  However the most well known date in the tax code is also the most misunderstood.  Most people think it's the deadline for filing their personal income taxes.  That's pretty close and there's no reason why you shouldn't file by 4/15.  However if you're getting a refund, which most taxpayers are, you don't have to file by tax day.  In fact you have 3 years to file with no late fees or penalties. Note this info applies to federal returns, many states have different rules.

 

So What Does Tax Day Really Mean?

Tax Day is a payment deadline, not necessarily a filing deadline.  The meaning differs if you're getting a refund vs. if you owe taxes. The following information applies to Tax Day 2015 (filing taxes on the money you made in 2014).

If you’re getting a refund:

  • You can file for 3 years, through April 15, 2018 with no late fees or penalties.  You don't need to file an extension, just file whenever you like.
  • If you don’t file by 2018, you forfeit your refund.
  • Although you don't have to file by April 15, we recommend you do.  Your refund is an interest free loan you're giving Uncle Sam, why give him any longer to pay you back?  And it's not a small loan - the average refund is $2,893 this year!  File today and get yours!

If you owe additional  taxes:

  • There is no penalty if you file an extension and pay 90% or more of taxes owed by April 15, 2015 as long as you file your return by October 15, 2015.
  • A late filing penalty applies if you owe taxes and don't file your return or an extension by April 15, 2015.
    • The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.
    • The late filing penalty is 10 times higher than the late payment penalty. If you can’t pay your tax bill and didn’t file an extension, at least file your return as soon as possible! You can always amend it later.
  • A late payment penalty applies if you don't pay 90% or more of taxes owed by April 15, 2015, whether you filed an extension or not.
    • The late payment penalty is 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.

If you’re not sure if you owe or are getting a refund:

  • If there’s a chance you owe, the penalties could be racking up, so don’t risk it by waiting.  File by April 15.
  • Most of our customers complete their taxes in minutes, so file now and get it over with.

 

What About Filing an Extension?

Extensions are fool’s goldyou still have to pay at least 90% of taxes owed.  That means you have to do enough of your taxes to determine how much you owe.  You might as well just spend a few more minutes and finish your taxes.  And if you're getting a refund, federal extensions are unnecessary.  You have 3 years to file, without filing an extension.

 

What If I Miss the Tax Filing Deadline?

As mentioned above, it depends if you're getting a refund or owe taxes.  If you're getting a refund, you can file for 3 years, through April 15, 2018, with no late fees or penalties.  If you are unable to pay the taxes you owe, contact the IRS and work out a payment plan.

 

File Your Taxes Now

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What is eFile?

What is efile? How do you efile your taxes?  We explain it all in this short and sweet article.  

IRS efile logo

 

What is efile?

eFile, also known as e-file or electronic filing, is a system for submitting tax information to the IRS through the internet or a direct connection, usually without having to submit any paperwork.  IRS developed eFile in 1986 to lower cost and paper usage and it has grown into the most popular way for individuals and businesses to send their tax returns to IRS.  Think of it as online bill pay for your taxes.

 

How do I efile my taxes?

The easiest way to efile is to use online tax software.  Both IRS and all major tax software providers recommend efile as the best way to submit your tax return.  Here's how to efile your taxes:

  1. Select the tax software / website that best meets your needs.  If you have relatively simple finances, we hope you'll give Common Form a try. If you have more complicated taxes, check out our friends at TaxAct.
  2. Use the software you selected to prepare your tax return.  Don't worry, the best software packages make it very easy.  You don't need to know anything about taxes and they do all the math for you.
  3. Once you're done preparing your return, you'll be asked if you want to efile your taxes or print and mail your return to the IRS.
  4. You'll verify your identity and "sign" your return electronically.
  5. The tax software you're using will securely transmit your return to the IRS.

 

How much does efile cost?

The IRS does not charge you or the tax software company you use for efile.  They want us all to use is because it's easier for them and better for the environment.  Many tax companies do charge a modest fee for preparing your tax return with them.  We have to pay our employees, buy and maintain secure servers, and have the normal expenses that any business does after all.  Most software sites allow you to start for free and not pay until the end, so you can see which one you like best before committing.  Watch out for those upgrade offers and add-ons, though.  Trust me, you do NOT need audit insurance!

 

How do I get my refund?

This is the most important question of course!  As you're efiling your taxes, you'll be able to select how you want to receive your refund.  The fastest way is to have it direct deposited into your bank account.  You can chose to have IRS send you a paper check, but that takes several weeks longer.  Some tax companies offer pre-paid debit cards and other offers that are essentially payday loans.  We strongly recommend you avoid them - they are loaded with hidden fees and the interest rates (APR) can be astronomical.  Most refunds are issued within a few days after IRS receives your efile, so you won't have to wait long.

 

How do I check the status of my refund?

Once you've filed, you can use the IRS's Where's My Refund tool or IRS2Go mobile app to check the status of your refund.  These tools are updated around once a day.

 

 

That's all there is to it! The IRS is far from perfect, but efile is a good system especially when compared to the alternative.  Who wants to print their return, attach a paper copy of their W-2, and mail it all in?

If you found this information helpful, we appreciate the chance to earn your business.  We pride ourselves on being the most user friendly tax software on the market.  Most of our customers get their taxes done in just a few minutes and we won't try to sell you a bunch of extra stuff you don't need.

 

File Your Taxes Now

 

 

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The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the South

  Recently, some folks here at Common Form Tax Software began a virtual journey across the U.S. to find the top accounting schools in each region of the country. As a follow up to our previous rankings of the The Top 10 Accounting Schools on the East Coast, the West, and the Midwest, we are proud to present Top 10 Accounting Schools in the South.

 

The criteria used to evaluate these schools include:

  • Job placement rates and average starting salary for graduates
  • Awards and recognition
  • Faculty and staff
  • Funds generated and allocated for research

 

Our fingers still stained with BBQ sauce, we present to you the very best that the South has to offer in accounting education, The Top 10 Accounting Schools in the South.

 

 

10. University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Haslam College of Business Administration

 

University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Haslam College of Business Administration logo

 

Starting us off at #10 on our list is The Haslam College of Business Administration at University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Tennessee, the birthplace of the blues and the home of Jack Daniels, is known for excellence and Haslam College of Business is no exception. The Haslam school ranked 24th in the Public Accounting Report. The Master of Accountancy program at University of Tennessee prides itself on their commitment to improving the world. Graduates of the Accountancy program find themselves receiving offers from the Big Four accounting firms and other notable companies. There is a 90% placement rate for its graduate accounting students, with expected mid-career average earnings of $77,000. Alumni become a Vol for Life, being inducted into the network that spans the globe.

 

 

9. University of Alabama, Culverhouse School of Accountancy

 

University of Alabama, Culverhouse School of Accountancy logo

 

The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse School of Accountancy has rolled in at a very respectable 9th on our rankings. Culverhouse is no stranger to being in the top 10, as it has found its way onto TaxTalent’s top 10 rankings as well. The University of Alabama is one of the oldest and largest institutions of higher education in the state. Culverhouse offers a Master of Accountancy with a strong mentor program that provides valuable networking opportunities, coaching, and often leads to job offers. Upon graduation 91% of students find themselves gainfully employed with a mid-career salary of $ 74,000. Roll Tide!

 

 

8. University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce

University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce logo

Coming in at #8 is the University of Virginia, McIntire School of Commerce. We aren’t the only ones who think they're stellar. TaxTalent ranked them 6th in their top 10, and Public Accounting Report has them ranked 23rd nationally. One facet of the program that sets McIntire apart is The Galant Center for Entrepreneurship. Founded in 2008 by proud alumnus Mark E. Galant, their mission is "to encourage, educate, and empower students—past and present— to take on crucial roles in the new venture community, thereby impacting the world in which we live and creating value of all kinds.” 95% of the graduates of the School of Commerce find employment with average Mid-career earnings of $112,000. Wah-hoo-wah UVA!

 

 

7. Wake Forest University, School of Business

Wake Forest University logo

Our 7th place pick is a prestigious private school located in North Carolina, Wake Forest University’s School of Business.  Wake Forest University distinguishes itself by providing a small class size and a high faculty to student ratio. Wake Forest professors found that More Female Executives Means Less Tax Evasion, research that was featured in Bloomberg. Wake Fores had the number one CPA pass rate in 2013 and the class of 2014 had a 100% employment rate upon graduation. The average mid-salary earnings of a WFU graduate are $105,000. Well done Demon Deacons!

 

 

6. University of Georgia, Terry College of Business

 

 

University of Georgia Terry College of Business logo

 

 

The Bulldogs using their brawn in research to bully their way into 6th place. The University of Georgia, Terry College of Business is also well known for its excellent faculty. They've been recognized by AAA Auditing Section Outstanding Educator Award and the American Tax Association Outstanding Manuscript Award. Even more impressive is that five of Terry faculty members are considered the most productive researchers being in the top 5% over the last 50 years. With extraordinary faculty like that, it is no wonder the school’s employment placement rate in 2013-2014 was 97%. Alumni of the Accounting program can expect to earn average mid-career salaries of $92,000. Congrats Uga and high-five, Hairy Dawg!

 

 

5. University of Mississippi, Patterson School of Accountancy

 

University of Mississippi logo

 

Flim Flam, Bim Bam, OLE MISS BY DAMN!  And the #5 ranking goes to the University of Mississippi, Patterson School of Accountancy. University of Mississippi is the largest university in the state and the largest employer in Lafayette, MS. Patterson is unique in that the university made it a separate school in 1979. The school placed fifth in the national rankings of Public Accounting Report. Along with remarkable faculty and small class size, the accounting school is home to the National Tax History Research Center and the National EDP Audit Archival Center. 94% of grads are offered employment within 6 months with average mid-career wages of $84,000. Way to fight Rebel Black Bears!

 

 

4. Texas A&M University, Mays Business School

 

Texas A & M University Mays Business School logo

 

Texas A&M University, Mays Business School is next, grabbing a top 4 spot on our list. This is one of two premier Texas business schools in our line-up. A&M got its start as a military and agricultural school. Those roots are still visible today in campus architecture and culture, but that hasn't stopped it from developing a top tier accounting school. Mays Business School was ranked #4 in Washington Monthly's 2014 "National Universities Rankings” based on three broad categories: social mobility, research, and service. The Master of Science in Accounting program from Mays provides students with technical accounting skills in addition to soft skills like teamwork and communication. Texas A&M is viewed as one of the nation’s top four (again) most affordable public universities with the highest ROI (what graduates are projected to earn in their first 20 years of careers divided by cost of attendance). The Texas A&M grads become part of an elite alumni network and 96% find employment. They can expect an average mid-salary income of $ 98,000. Gig 'em, Aggies!

 

 

3. University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Administration

 

University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration logo

 

University of Florida, Warrington College of Business Administration wins the bronze medal as our third ranked school in the South. Their Master's program offers three tracks, including taxation. The University of Florida is one of the largest research universities in the nation and the accounting department is no exception. Their International Center for Research in Accounting and Auditing focuses on advancing the overall educational and academic goals at the same time as increasing global visibility. As a testament to the fine instruction the students receive, in 2013, Warrington students ranked 12th in CPA pass rate among 262 schools. 93% of graduates receive job offers within 90 days of graduating with average mid-career earnings of $87,000. Give a cheer for the Orange and Blue!

 

 

2. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School

 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School logo

 

 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan-Flagler Business School comes in a close second place. This beautiful university known for specializing in medicine and law also has an elite business school. Their accounting program has received top 10 national rankings in U.S. News and World Report, Public Accounting Report, and TaxTalent. Kenan-Flagler’s Master of Accounting program prepares students to “make an impact in the business world.” Their world-class faculty helps students achieve a 98% job placement rate and mid-career salaries $104K on average. A hearty congratulations to the Tar Heels!

 

 

1. University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

 

University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business logo

 

Brimming with pride from coming in first place, the blue ribbon winner is the University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business.  True, UT is our CEO’s alma mater, but we're not biased. U.S. News and World Report lists them as the top accounting school in the country in its most recent rankings.  They offer a Master in Professional Accounting (MPA) degree program with a fast track from Bachelor's to Master's in as little as 12 months. Distinguishing McCombs is its focus on creating an individual plan for success in the workplace based on each student’s goals and strengths. The Texas Exes have a tight-knit network of business partners to help students find jobs and 94% do so within 90 days of graduation. The average mid-career salary is a healthy $107,000. Hook 'em Horns!

 

Five Key Facts About Unemployment Benefits

Much of the content of this post comes from IRS Tax Tip 2014-30. Sample 1099-G Form reporting Unemployment Income

 

If you lose your job, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. The payments may serve as much needed relief. But did you know unemployment benefits are taxable? Here are five key facts about unemployment compensation:

1. Unemployment is taxable.  You must include all unemployment compensation as income for the year. If you received unemployment in 2014 you should receive a Form 1099-G from the state that paid you by February 2, 2015. This form shows the amount paid to you and any federal income tax withheld.

2. Unemployment is paid under U.S. or state law.  There are various types of unemployment compensation. Unemployment includes amounts paid under U.S. or state unemployment compensation laws.

3. Union benefits may be taxable.  You must include benefits paid to you from regular union dues in your income. Other rules may apply if you contributed to a special union fund and those contributions are not deductible. In that case, you only include as income any amount that you got that was more than the contributions you made.

4. You may have tax withheld.  You can choose to have federal income tax withheld from your unemployment. You can have this done using Form W-4V, Voluntary Withholding Request. Most people don't do this, and pay taxes owed when they file their tax return.

5. Visit IRS.gov for help.  If you’re facing financial difficulties, you should visit the IRS.gov page: “What Ifs” for Struggling Taxpayers. This page explains the tax effect of events such as job loss. For example, if your income decreased, you may be eligible for certain tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit. If you owe federal taxes and can’t pay your bill, contact the IRS. In many cases, the IRS can take steps to help ease your financial burden.

 

IRS makes it sound more complicated than it is. We ask you all the right questions, put the numbers in the right places, and do the math so you get the biggest refund possible.

 

File Your Taxes Now

 

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