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Tax Day is July 15. Here’s what you need to know

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO

The extended deadline to file and pay federal, state and local taxes is Wednesday, July 15.

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring, the federal government postponed the traditional April 15 filing deadline until July 15. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 197 in March to give the state an extension, too.

Pushing back the date provided some relief for taxpayers dealing with uncertainty brought on by lock downs, school closures and shuttered businesses. That new deadline is just one day away.

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The Internal Revenue Service expects about 150 million returns from individuals this year. As of the last count, it had received almost 139 million. That’s down about 6 million — or 5.3% for the comparable period last year.

Bruce Baughman, owner of Belmont Business Consultants and Tax Services on Wayne Avenue, said his business has been very busy with people who are filing last minute. Since last Thursday, Baughman said business has been steady.

“We had a relaxing three and a half months, and now we’re back at our peak hours,” Baughman said. “I think the date change made the tax filing deadline slip a lot of people’s minds. Everything else was shut down and people didn’t want to leave their houses.”

Taxpayers must file or seek an extension by the new deadline or face a penalty. You can avoid the penalty if you file for an extension by Wednesday, Baughman said. Taxpayers who file for an extension will have until Oct. 15 to file their taxes. Those who don’t pay by the deadline will also be fined, but that penalty is smaller than the penalty for not filing.

Taxpayers also can work out a payment agreement to pay in installments, Baughman said.

A big difference this year is that those who don’t have health insurance don’t have to pay a penalty fee, Baughman said.

His office is mostly booked until end of business on Wednesday. However, Baughman said he and his team at Belmont Business Consultants can help Miami Valley residents file for an extension or help prepare their taxes after the deadline.

RELATED: Cities extend income tax filing to match state, feds July 15 deadline

The city of Centerville Finance Department said about 40% of residents still need to file their local income taxes.

“Please remember that an approved extension beyond the July 15 deadline is only an extension to file but not for payment of 2019 income taxes,” the city said in a news release.

Centerville said that residents who need in-person tax help can schedule appointments by calling (937) 433-7151.

RELATED: Millions of IRS income tax refund checks slowed with agency shutdown

Residents are encouraged to use some of the other options available to prepare, file or pay their local income taxes. Taxpayers can prepare or file their tax return electronically if they meet the requirements listed on the Income Tax page on the city’s website. Centerville residents can mail their returns to the city’s Tax Office or take advantage of the blue drop box in the parking lot behind the Municipal Building.

Fairborn Revenue Manager Danielle Wolfe said the city has seen an influx in phone traffic as the July 15 deadline approaches.

“We are currently serving the citizens by appointment only,” Wolfe said. “Taxpayers appearing for their appointment are asked to wear a mask or other facial covering and to maintain appropriate social distancing while in the government center.”

As of July 7, the number of individual tax returns filed was 2,620 less than by the filing deadline in 2019, she said. The city expects a number of those people who haven’t filed to file in the remaining days prior to the deadline.

Riverside Finance Director Tom Garrett said he has helped a lot of residents with their taxes. Riverside switched from the Regional Income Tax Agency to the city of Cleveland Central Collection Agency in January.

Garrett said all tax rules are the same, residents just have to mail their taxes to CCA instead of RITA this year.

If Riverside residents can’t get their tax questions answered over the phone, they can always send their W2 form to CCA, Garrett said. This method will take longer because CCA has a lot of tax forms to go through. Riverside residents can also file online, unless they are self-employed or work in another city but live in Riverside, Garrett said.

In Vandalia, Finance Director Bridgette Leiter said the past several days have seen a marked increase in the number of returns filed. She expects that pace of returns to continue right up through the close of business on Wednesday.

The department guessed that about 60% of the expected returns have been filed.

Vandalia urged its residents to take advantage of the online tax tool that is accessible through the city’s website. The tool is free. Every tax account receives a mailing in February that contains the link to the tax tool, along with that taxpayer’s account number.

“We also encourage citizens to call or come into the tax office if they have questions,” said Vandalia city spokesman Rich Hopkins. “We have a great group of friendly tax professionals who are very happy to help a citizen get their return filed.”

Quick tips:

Do I have to file my taxes on Wednesday?

Yes. In most cases, you must file and pay your taxes by July 15. Taxpayers who need more time can request an extension on the IRS website. That will give them until Oct. 15 to file. However, an extension to file does not mean added time to pay. Those planning on filing later should estimate what they owe and make that payment by July 15.

What if I can’t pay now?

File your taxes even if you cannot pay. The IRS is willing to set up payment plans or make other arrangements with taxpayers who can’t pay in full. The penalty for failure to file is much more expensive than the failure to pay, said Bruce Baughman, owner of Belmont Business Consultants and Tax Services.

What about refunds?

The IRS is still processing and issuing refunds, most within 21 days. Those getting refunds will be paid interest, dating back to April 15, if they file on time. The interest rate is 5% per year through June 30. Starting July 1, it drops to 3% per year. The interest is compounded daily for refunds. Any refund issued after July 1 will get a blended rate.

Can I pay or file online?

Yes, you can file or pay your taxes online. The IRS urges taxpayers to use electronic options to support social distancing and speed up the processing of returns, refunds or payments. The agency is still working its way through a backlog of mail that built up during its closure in response to the pandemic.

Accountants and tax preparation services say they have a variety of means to help people prepare their taxes without meeting face to face.

What about estimated taxes?

Taxpayers who make estimated quarterly tax payments have until July 15 to make the payments for the first and second quarter. Those payments were originally due on April 15 and June 15 respectively.

What else?

There are a host of other tax deadlines linked to July 15. For example, July 15 is also the deadline to claim a refund for 2016 tax returns. An estimated $1.5 billion refunds for 2016 are sitting unclaimed because people failed to file tax returns. The law provides a three-year window of opportunity to claim a refund. But if taxpayers do not file a return within that time, the money becomes property of the Treasury.

With all the changes stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, there may be need for added help when it comes to taxes. It’s a good time to check in with a tax professional if you have had a major shift in income, employment or other tax situations in 2020.