It's almost October 15th and we all know what that means. Tax accountants get to sleep again, for a few months. Spend a little time with the families. Take a short trip. Gear up for that other tax season, the one that starts right after the new year.
Between the fact that the automatic extension date for individual income tax returns is October 15, and the change in the due date to September 15 for extended partnerships and trusts, tax accountants have found that they really don't have a down time at all. "A lot of tax practitioners are now spending practically all year doing tax returns," said Eva Rosenberg, EA, aka The Tax Mama, and a member of the AccountingWEB Bloggers Crew. "Really, there is no slow time for tax professionals any more."
Donna Kellison, director, at Carmel, IN-based Blue & Co., indicated that while her tax return load might be smaller now than it is in the spring, it's definitely not easier. "The ones you have left are ones that are rather difficult, otherwise you don't have them."
Prior to 2005, taxpayers could obtain an automatic four-month extension of their individual income tax return, to August 15, and then could make a request for an additional two-month extension until October 15. Now that the automatic extension goes to October 15, there is no opportunity to request a second extension of time to file the tax returns, however there are exceptions to the rule. Some taxpayers can wait until after October 15 to file. This includes those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities and people affected by recent natural disasters.
The IRS expects to receive as many as 10 million tax returns from taxpayers who used Form 4868 this year to request the six-month extension to file their returns.
In addition to the many reasons that cause taxpayers to extend their filing dates, the IRS suggests that this year, some taxpayers may have requested the filing extension to claim the first-time homebuyer credit for a home purchase that closed after the April 15 deadline.
Whatever the reason for the extension, Rosenberg suggests that some taxpayers might be reluctant to contact their accountants as the October 15 date approaches. "They're embarrassed. Or they're afraid to incur your ire." Rosenberg suggests sending e-mail reminders right away to any clients who haven't sent in their tax material yet. "I sent out all my little passive aggressive e-mail reminders to people and I just heard from someone who said, 'I was feeling really guilty and I wasn't going to get in touch with you. I just wasn't going to do it, and I'm so glad you sent me the note.'"
"Follow up with them now. They really have no intention of leaving you. You get to keep the client and be the hero," Rosenberg said.