One month after tax deadline, tax pros still hard at work
One month after the tax filing deadline, most taxpayers have put their 2016 return behind them. So what are H&R Block’s tax professionals actually doing? From tax planning and audit support to continuing education, it turns out they have quite a lot to do year-round, like:
Meeting tax deadlines in May, June, July, September, October…
The April deadline may be the most well-known deadline, but it actually doesn’t apply to everyone. U.S. citizens and residents living, or U.S. military service members stationed abroad on the April deadline don’t have to file a tax return until June 15. Military service members stationed in a combat zone have at least 180 days after they leave a combat zone to file their returns. And victims of declared disasters generally receive extended tax deadlines: this year, affected taxpayers in Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi have had their 2016 tax filing deadline extended to May 31 or June 30 depending on which disaster impacted them. Finally, anyone who was unable to file by the April deadline and requested a 6-month extension has until October 16 to file a return.
There are additional deadlines for taxpayers who own a business or are self-employed – including people who gig or share. As a general rule, they should make quarterly estimated payments in April, June, September and January to cover their income tax liability. If they have employees, they may also need to make employment tax (withholding and FICA) deposits on a regular basis.
Finding three years’ worth of money taxpayers left on the table
Even though the April deadline has come and gone for 2016, taxpayers can still go back and make changes to last year’s return – and their 2015 return and their 2014 return – and claim a refund. For example, they may have been doing their taxes themselves without realizing they could get a credit for their college expenses.
If the mistake was in the last three years, it is not too late to make a correction and claim the tax benefit. H&R Block offers a free Second Look to taxpayers who completed their returns themselves or had others prepare them. Taxpayers who think they may have left money on the table in 2014, 2015 or 2016 can see if a Second Look is right for them with a free online assessment.
Planning, estimating and adjusting when life changes
When it comes to taxes, what happens in May, June or July doesn’t stay there – it ends up in next April’s taxes. Getting a raise, losing a job, renting out a room for a little extra income, having a baby, leaving the nest, buying a house, retiring, getting married, getting divorced, changing health insurance plans and other common life changes will likely come up again at tax time. That raise could push a taxpayer’s income up out of range for a tax credit. Having a baby could mean hiring a nanny and becoming an employer with new tax obligations.
Instead of rolling the dice and hoping for a good outcome, taxpayers can plan throughout the year for April, giving them time to make course correction more meaningful and less painful. Changing how much tax is withheld from their paychecks, updating their financial and household information with the health insurance marketplace and estimating their income can help them plan for the tax benefits they want to claim and maximize the outcome in April.
Supporting taxpayers facing an audit or penalties
The IRS conducts audits throughout the year and can generally reach back up to three years (or more in some situations). So at any time during the year, a taxpayer could receive a notice of taxes, penalties and interest due for prior returns. Tax professionals can help resolve the audit, apply for penalty relief or help figure out a payment plan.
Teaching about taxes
Each summer, thousands of taxpayers sign up for the Income Tax Course (ITC) to learn how to prepare a tax return like a professional. Experienced and highly skilled H&R Block tax experts teach this course in traditional classroom environments supported by self-study learning and activities.
Learning more about taxes
Each year, H&R Block’s tax professionals must complete at least 18 hours of continuing education. This is on top of the training they must have to become an H&R Block tax professional in the first place. They may also be studying for three exams to become an enrolled agent, the IRS' highest credential for tax preparers.
Taxpayers who discover they need a tax professional after April can find one at a year-round H&R Block office.
By Annelise Wiens
As the newsroom editor, Annelise Wiens is interested in more than just tax and industry news, but the stories of H&R Block's 80,000 associates, their communities and H&R Block's world headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Wiens joined H&R Block in 2014 from a public relations agency, where she worked with clients in the financial services industry. Before that, she worked as a communicator for a senior member of the United States House of Representatives. She graduated from Biola University in La Mirada, CA with a bachelor's degree in history.