Procrastinators Get Four Extra Days To File Tax Returns

turtle-174706_960_720It may not seem like much, but to hardcore procrastinators four days could seem like heaven especially when it comes to getting taxes filed without an extension.

Here’s how that works. Because we are in a Leap Year, you’ll get that extra February 29th day.  And because of the celebration of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, the official deadline is April 18th.  Even better if you live in Massachusetts or Maine, both of which celebrate Patriots Day, you get an extra fifth day to file.

The one thing procrastinators need to take into consideration is that identity theft may still be a problem and those cyber thieves seem to thrive on taxpayers coming late to the party, so to speak. If you insist on waiting until the very last minute to file, stay alert to any communication via regular mail from the IRS shortly after you’ve submitted your tax return. Very often the first indication of fraud is a notice from the IRS that a tax return already has been filed with a taxpayer’s Social Security number. 

The IRS is taking measures to help avoid identity theft and refund fraud. There was a big security summit held last year where the IRS, tax preparers, state representatives and software companies met to establish standards for authenticating tax filers online, and sharing information with the IRS and state departments of revenue on patterns of fraudulent behavior. Last November the IRS also launched a public awareness campaign in which they issued a series of tips on how to protect personal data online.

The issue is that as technology becomes more sophisticated so do the criminals. With greater avenues for personal data on social media it becomes easier to access information that allows them to take on false identities and look legitimate to the IRS and their new safety systems.

As a result of the security summit and new safety protocols, taxpayers filing electronically might see requests for stronger passwords, and security questions to help validate that they are who they say they are. Instead of feeling annoyed at the extra steps, taxpayers should feel safer filing their taxes.

You should also keep in mind that the IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers via any method other than regular mail. They never communicate via electronic media. They never text or reach out through any social media. In addition, the IRS never requests personal or financial information.

If your identity is stolen, resolving the issue can take months, even longer. It’s very difficult for taxpayers as well as practitioners to effectively resolve issues.

The IRS began accepting tax returns on January 19th. If you are a procrastinator, you have until April 18th, four extra days to drag it out. But remember, you could become a target for identity thieves filing taxes using your social security number. Whatever you choose to do, file your taxes. It is a criminal offense not to file.