In this final stretch of tax season (the last few days), I love to hear the word “extension.” In fact, the sound of it is music to my ears, breathing room and a stress releaser. April 15 turns into October 15 with one mere piece of paper, Form 4868. There are no more last minute decisions to be made (deductible or not?). More quality time can be given for researching that difficult issue facing a taxpayer. After April 15, a clear and fresh mind can be set against the challenge of understanding all the facts and circumstances that should align with a very difficult application of tax law.
By the way, why April 15th? Could April 5th have served just as well – the due date for returns in the United Kingdom? Or could May 31st with no extensions be appropriate – the due date in Canada. Why not February 28th – the due date in South Africa? Who picked April 15th? Why not October 15th for all tax returns? Or as some have suggested, why don’t we use a rotating due date tied to Social Security Numbers? Well, my guess is that regardless of the due dates, extensions would be in place for many taxpayers.
So extensions are used for more time to “file” returns, but not to pay the taxes, you say. Come now! Which wise accountant has not suggested that a client who struggles with a balance due could simply borrow from the government? There is no paperwork to fill out, no loan officer to convince and no check to be cut. And which bank will offer a loan to a lender who is not afraid to pay the United States of America? Consumer interest is not deductible anyway. A six month extension on time to pay… or time to negotiate a payment plan sounds appealing to many an American taxpayer. But, far be it from me to suggest a pattern that does not align with the advice given by the 1040 hotline.
As tax season 2010 becomes history, pass me one more Form 4868….for yours truly!
Blogger: Charles ‘Eddie’ Brown, CPA