How long should you wait before filing taxes? Surprise! Later can sometimes be better
Tax preparers and the IRS encourage you to file taxes early. But there are times you may want to consider filing later, closer to the tax deadline, or even request an extension.
What are those times and how would you know if you should?
Some are easy calls, like if you had an account at the bankrupt, scandal-ridden cryptocurrency exchange and crypto hedge fund FTX. With alleged wide-reaching fraud and more than a million creditors and investors, it might take a while to untangle the schemes and see if anything is recoverable and know how to handle the outcome on your tax return.
However, there are other good reasons to wait on your tax return, including making sure you have all the proper tax documents, accountants say.
It’s true if your income streams are few and straightforward like work or savings accounts, you’ll likely be able to file your taxes right away. Those forms must all be sent to you by the end of January and are usually correct.
But it may surprise you, not all tax forms are required by law to get to you by Jan. 31, and that could hold up your tax filing.
“Sometimes, it won’t even be a discussion of whether to file on time or not,” said Brian Schultz, wealth management partner at certified public accounting firm Plante Moran. “It’ll just be impossible to file on time.”
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What tax forms should you consider waiting for?
Most forms that may come later result from investments. They include:
K-1s for partners, shareholders, and such showing their share of a business income that must be reported on their personal tax returns. The IRS says they’re due on the 15th day of the third month after the end of the partnership's tax year, which is generally March 15 but can be extended to Sept. 15 if it’s a calendar year.
1099-Bs are consolidated tax returns from a brokerage account, summarizing capital gains, foreign dividends and more. They’re mailed by Feb. 15, but corrections are often issued and can come out as late as May, past the April 18 tax deadline, said Schultz of Plante Moran.
“You might want to wait for those 1099-Bs because they can sometimes have a significant impact on your tax return,” said Rob Burnette, chief executive and investment adviser representative at Outlook Financial Center.
Can I claim FTX loss on taxes?
Since the government filed criminal charges against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried and some fellow executives, the more than one million taxpayers in limbo might be able to use the IRS theft loss rule that the IRS clarified when financier Bernie Madoff masterminded the largest Ponzi scheme in history. The scheme, worth about $64.8 billion, cheated tens of thousands of people. The theft loss rule allows you to claim the loss as an itemized deduction if the theft was considered illegal in the state where it occurred and it was done with criminal intent.
“Charging FTX in a criminal fraud suit may have helped taxpayers,” said Ryan Losi, executive vice president at certified public accounting firm PIASCIK. “That doesn’t mean the charges will stick or that outcome will prevail, but it gives taxpayers a leg to stand on and a potential option if they want to explore it” and file a tax return.
Ultimately, though, Losi says taxpayers may just want to file an extension, if they can, to get more clarity from the IRS.
It may be less hassle to file an extension now than file an amended tax form later, accountants say. Plus, amended returns have “a higher audit rate,” warns Burnette. “When you amend a return, the IRS won’t just look at the reason the return was amended but look at the entire return.”
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Are there other reasons not to file early?
If someone died and the trust or estate made a distribution to you, you’re not likely to get the information you need for your taxes until too close to Tax Day. Estates and trusts need extra time to calculate the tax information as they apply to each beneficiary, so calendar year estates and trusts have until April 15 each year to distribute the K-1 tax form to you. (For fiscal year estates and trusts, the K-1 tax form deadline is the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the estate or trust tax year.)
Further, estates and trusts can file for a five-month extension, which would also extend the time to get the K-1 to you.
If you’re self-employed or own a small business, you can give yourself more time to fund your retirement account.
Individual Retirement Account contributions must be made by the tax deadline, which is April 18 this year, to count as a deduction for 2022 taxes. However, if you contribute to a Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Arrangement, or SEP IRA, you can file for a tax filing extension to Oct. 16, which will also extend the time you can contribute for a 2022 deduction, giving you access to that money for another six months, Schultz says.
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Medora Lee is a money, markets and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at email@example.com and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Filing early isn't always better. When to wait on your tax returns