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How To Approach the Tax Extension

Ashley Phillips, Ph.D.

In response to COVID-19, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the due date for filing 2019 federal income tax returns and remitting federal income tax payments until July 15.

This relief applies to federal income tax payments — including the payment self-employment income tax — and federal income tax returns due on April 15. The July extension is automatic. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson extended the deadline for filing state income tax returns to July 15, as well. However, the deadline for Arkansas’ estimated tax payments has not been extended.

To understand how Arkansans should approach the federal and state tax deadline extension, we spoke with Ashley Phillips, Ph.D., assistant professor of accounting, who was a tax attorney with the IRS for five years before joining the UCA College of Business in 2016.

When should a return be filed?

“Everyone should file their federal and state income tax returns as soon as possible rather than waiting until July 15. One important reason for filing your return as early as possible is to reduce the risk of tax identity theft. Filing tax returns prevents an identity thief from later electronically filing a return using your personal information to claim a fraudulent refund. The IRS is encouraging taxpayers who expect a refund to file their return as soon as possible. For those expecting a refund, filing a tax return electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to receive the refund.

If a tax payment is due, the return may still be filed now and the tax due may be remitted closer to July 15. If you are concerned that you will not have the ability to pay the tax due, then a payment plan with the IRS should be considered. The IRS has short-term (120 days or less) payment plans and long-term (more than 120 days) installment plans. More information on these payment plans can be found on the IRS website. It is important to remember interest, penalties and additions to tax for postponed federal income tax filings and payments will begin to accrue on July 16 for returns not filed or tax payments not remitted by July 15.

If an extension of time beyond the July deadline is needed, then an application for extension should be filed on Form 4868 by July 15.”

What is the impact of the extension on estimated payments?

“All first-quarter estimated income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15 are now due July 15. The extension of time does not apply to the second-quarter estimated income tax payments due on June 15.”

What is the deadline for 2019 IRA contributions?

“The deadline for making IRA contributions for 2019 has also been extended until July 15.”