When You Need to Withdraw Retirement Money Early

No matter how much you might plan, unexpected events occur and sometimes you are forced to withdraw funds from your retirement savings early. While this may seem like an easy way to get cash quickly, early withdrawals can come with heavy penalties and costly tax consequences. Here’s some important info for people to consider before they dip into their hard-earned retirement savings.

Impact On Your 401(K), 403(B) And 457(B) Retirement Plans

You might have certain plans known as 401(k), 403(b) or 457(b) retirement plans and they can distribute benefits only when certain events occur. The plan’s summary description should clearly state when a distribution can occur. It will also state if the plan allows hardship distributions, early withdrawals, or loans.

Note the differences in these distributions.

  • Hardship distributions are withdrawals from a participant’s account made because of an immediate and heavy financial need and it’s limited to the amount necessary to satisfy that financial need. The need of the employee includes the need of the employee’s spouse or dependent.
  • Hardship distributions are includible in gross income unless they consist of designated Roth contributions. This is important so let’s make it clear. What you take out as a “hardship distribution” will be added to your gross income — and it’s taxable. The exception is if you have a Roth IRA, as these are funded with after-tax money, and there is no tax deduction for their contribution..
  • Distributions before the participant turn 65, or the plan’s normal retirement age, if earlier, may result in an additional income tax of 10% of the amount withdrawn. Let’s be clear about this point too. There can also be a 10% tax penalty.
  • Repaying hardship distributions back to the plan or rolling it over to another plan or IRA isn’t permitted. And let’s be clear about this: you can’t pay the money back to your plan. That means be certain you really need to withdraw the money before you take it out of your retirement plan.

Taking Out a Loan

Your retirement plan, however, might allow for loans. If it does you can repay the loans and if the loans are repaid within certain rules and schedules you can avoid taxes and penalties on these loans. Ask your plan administrator for details.

When You Have to Take Money Out

We should also mention when you have to take money out of your retirement account because you are required to do so. Under the law, taxpayers must make a required minimum distribution (withdrawal from their retirement account) each year beginning with the year that the taxpayer turns 72. If the taxpayer turned 70 and a half in 2019 then the taxpayer was also required to start taking distributions.

However, there are no required minimum distributions if your retirement was in a Roth IRA.

Ask your plan administrator for details about required distributions including how much you must withdraw.

Rules For IRAS And Ira-Based Plans

Let’s also discuss the rules for IRAs and IRA-based plans. You can take distributions from your IRA, SEP-IRA, or SIMPLE-IRA at any time. Taxpayers do not need to show a hardship to take a distribution from these types of retirement accounts. All you have to do is contact the bank or broker handling your account and ask for your money.

Early distributions occur when individuals withdraw money from an Individual Retirement Account or retirement plan before age 59½. These retirement plan distributions are subject to income tax. Individuals must also pay an additional 10% early withdrawal tax unless an exception to the early distribution tax applies. There were certain exceptions because of the Covid Pandemic. Ask your tax professional about these exceptions.

If you are ordered to take an early IRA distribution because of a divorce, not that early distributions are subject to regular income tax and the 10% penalty unless there are qualified exceptions. Again, ask your tax professional.

We Offer A Free Consultation

As always, we offer a free consultation about tax issues. Call us. We have tax attorneys, CPAs, and Enrolled Agents who can answer your questions, including how to resolve your IRS debt.


The IRS is now sending out special reminder letters to people who appear to qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC), Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC), or Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) but haven’t yet filed a 2021 return to claim them. The letter, printed in both English and Spanish, provides a brief overview of each of these three credits.

Even if you aren’t required to file a tax return because of low income, you may still qualify for these important credits that will get you a check from the U.S. Treasury.

The only way to get the valuable benefits is to file a 2021 tax return.

This means that many people who don’t normally need to file a tax return should do so this year, even if they haven’t been required to file in recent years.

What Are These Credits?

The three credits include:

  • An expanded Child Tax Credit: Families can claim this credit, even if they received monthly advance payments during the last half of 2021. The total credit can be as much as $3,600 per child.
  • A more generous Earned Income Tax Credit: The law boosted the EITC for childless workers. There are also changes that can help low- and moderate-income families with children. The credit can be as much as $1,502 for workers with no qualifying children, $3,618 for those with one child, $5,980 for those with two children, and $6,728 for those with at least three children.
  • The Recovery Rebate Credit: Those who missed out on last year’s third round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP3) may be eligible to claim the RRC. Often referred to as stimulus payments, this credit can also help eligible people whose EIP3 was less than the full amount, including those who welcomed a child in 2021. The maximum credit is $1,400 for each qualifying adult, plus $1,400 for each eligible child or adult dependent.

Besides these three credits, many filers may also qualify for two other benefits with a tax return filed for 2021:

  • An increased Child and Dependent Care Credit: Families who pay for daycare so they can work or look for work can get a tax credit worth up to $4,000 for one qualifying person and $8,000 for two or more qualifying persons.
  • A deduction for gifts to charity: Most tax-filers who take the standard deduction can deduct eligible cash contributions they made during 2021. Married couples filing jointly can deduct up to $600 in cash donations and individuals can deduct up to $300 in donations. In addition, itemizers who make large cash donations often qualify to deduct the full amount in 2021.

Call Us, We Can Help

Our tax defense attorney can help you file overdue and missing tax returns. We can answer your questions. We offer a free consultation.
If you have a low income now but have a tax debt you might be a candidate for the IRS Fresh Start Initiative and the IRS Offer In Compromise Program. We can tell you if you’re eligible in a free 15-minute phone call.

Getting IRS Penalties Removed

One of the goals we have at Legal Tax Defense when we represent a taxpayer before the IRS is to have their IRS tax penalties removed or reduced. It is possible to have IRS tax penalties reduced or removed, and the IRS has published guidance in its regulations for its own employees to follow about tax penalty abatement. You should know what these regulations say about tax penalty abatement.

First, the IRS representatives want to know the taxpayer’s reason and that reason should show a reasonable cause.

The IRS representatives also want to know that the taxpayer had a history of compliance with the IRS before the incidents that caused a penalty to be imposed. If the taxpayer has a history of the same penalty in previous years, the IRS agent could be skeptical that there is a reasonable cause.

IRS agents are told to consider first-time reasonable causes for penalty abatement, but a first-time reasonable cause does not mean penalties will be reduced or eliminated.

IRS agents will also consider whether the event that caused a penalty to be imposed was an event that was out of their control. A death, serious illness, or a widespread problem such as Covid pandemic shutdowns and a job loss could be events that could lead to penalties that could be reduced or eliminated.

The IRS regulations that its agents follow specifically mention death, serious illness, or unavoidable absence as reasons that should be taken under consideration for removing or reducing penalties.

For individuals, the IRS instructs its representatives to consider penalty abatement with this paragraph:

“If there was a death, serious illness, or unavoidable absence of the taxpayer or a death or serious illness in the taxpayer’s immediate family (i.e., spouse, sibling, parents, grandparents, children).”

Death or serious illness can also be expanded as a reason for reducing penalties if the taxpayer had the sole authority or file a tax return, make payments, or make deposits for corporations, estates, trusts, and other legal entities.

Can You Present Your Case to The IRS By Yourself?

Can you present your case for reducing IRS tax penalties to the IRS by yourself? Yes, you can. The IRS regulations give you the right to do it. But the IRS regulations also allow you to have a representative to present your case to the IRS. We can discuss that with you when you call us for a free telephone consultation.

In many cases, taxpayers with a problem with the IRS can handle their own issues. But there comes a time and a cost when you might be better off with expert representation. We can discuss those options with you.

There are payment plans with the IRS that are very appropriate for taxpayers who owe smaller amounts of money to the IRS. But if your tax debt is high, or if your financial situation has changed so you can’t handle a tax debt on your own, our free telephone consultation can include information about seeking an IRS Fresh Start Program or an IRS Offer In Compromise program. And yes, we’ll also include having IRS tax penalties removed or reduced.

If you have a tax debt, call us today to be connected to a tax attorney for immediate tax relief.



Our tax attorneys, CPAs, Enrolled Agents, and tax experts can handle the tax obligations of your business. Right now, it might be very difficult for you to handle your business affairs with the IRS because the IRS has a paperwork nightmare that was caused by the Covid pandemic shutdowns and a lack of IRS staff.

The IRS announced on September 30th that it’s processing of tax returns and tax paperwork is still months behind schedule. And what is especially troublesome is that the IRS is now suggesting that some businesses and individuals will have to file their tax returns and paperwork again because the original filings could be lost.
What a headache for businesses. It’s like repeating previous tax seasons all over again.

There’s A Problem With Form 941

There is a particular problem with Form 941 that businesses submit to the IRS quarterly. Form 941 is the quarterly report that businesses file with the IRS that tells about the employee taxes that were withheld including Social Security taxes, and what was sent to the IRS. Now we’re finding out that some filings sent by snail mail could be lost, and even some electronic filings may have been lost.
The IRS says: “As of September 28, 2022, we had 3.6 million unprocessed Forms 941.  If you filed electronically and received an acknowledgment, you do not need to take any further action other than promptly responding to any requests for information. These tax returns are processed in the order received. Please don’t file a second tax return.”
That last sentence “please don’t file a second tax return” is what has businesses worried. The IRS is also reporting that some individual taxpayers may need to file tax returns again because the original filings can’t be found. Mostly the missing tax returns were sent by snail mail, and now the IRS is asking that any repeat submissions be made only electronically.

The IRS Is Behind On At Least 10-Million Tax Submissions

By the way, the IRS has 6.2-million individual tax returns it still hasn’t processed. Add 3.6-million unprocessed Form 941 filings, and the IRS has a backlog of at least 10 million returns and submissions.
Your accounting department may have its hands full with salaries, purchase orders, paying bills, and collecting invoices. Are they able to handle a repeat of a previous tax season? Call us and let’s talk about the services we can provide. We can be your tax office.


Here’s something that may be hard to swallow. The IRS is saying that In some cases businesses and individuals may need to send in certain tax filings again.

Why send in the tax paperwork again? It’s because the IRS is now reporting that some filings sent in by businesses and individuals may be unaccounted for.

The revelation that you might have to send in certain paperwork again came in a report on September 30, 2022. In that report, the IRS said that tax filings from both individuals and businesses that were not previously confirmed as received by their electronic system may have to be submitted again. Were the tax returns and paperwork lost? The IRS isn’t saying. Maybe they just gave up trying to find the returns and paperwork.

Tax filings sent in by snail mail might be at the top of the list of tax filings that might need to be submitted again.

Adding Up The Numbers For Individuals And Businesses

Here it is, almost at the end of 2022, and the IRS is still having problems processing tax returns from 2020 and before. 2021 tax returns are due on October 17, 2022, if you filed an extension on your 2021 paperwork. Some taxpayers who filed their 2021 tax returns on time are still waiting for their refunds.

If we add up the numbers of unprocessed tax filings for businesses and consumers we can get a good handle on the problem. As of the end of September 2022, there were 6.2-million unprocessed tax returns from individuals at the IRS. And the IRS says there were 3.6-million unprocessed Form 941 filings from businesses that were at the IRS that was not yet processed.

Form 941 is what businesses send to the IRS each quarter to report on the tax money that they withheld from employees’ paychecks and Social Security payments that they withheld, and what was sent to the IRS for those employees’ accounts. That is vital information that is needed by the government, the Social Security Administration, and the IRS and it’s sitting there.

What the IRS did not mention is how many tax returns and other forms may actually be lost or unaccounted for, and how many business tax returns are still unprocessed.

But we do know that as of the end of September 2022 nearly 10 million filings are unprocessed.

Yes, It’s A Burden To Have To Resubmit Your Tax Paperwork

The IRS is now talking about businesses and individuals having to resubmit their tax returns and filings. Yes, it’s a burden to have to resubmit your tax paperwork. It’s a burden for individuals and for businesses. If the IRS is suggesting that you might have to do it, it’s an indication that the paperwork in question may have been lost or fatally misplaced because of the Covid pandemic shutdowns.

The IRS wants resubmitted paperwork sent in electronically, as it appears most of the “missing paperwork” was sent in by snail mail.

But this is important: the IRS is asking that businesses and individuals not send in their paperwork again if the businesses and individuals have received a confirmation that their original paperwork is at the IRS. Duplicating paperwork will not get your refunds faster.

The Impact On Businesses And Individuals

This mess at the IRS can cause all sorts of problems for businesses and for individuals. For individuals counting on an IRS refund to pay bills, it means you will have to wait and keep waiting. Call us to speak with our tax attorney and professionals for a free consultation on how we might be able to help you resolve your tax problems. There is a possibility that your refund has been held up for a reason that you might be able to fix. For example, did you enter a Social Security Number on your tax return incorrectly? This can delay the processing of your tax return and it can delay your refund. Our tax relief experts will discuss your tax situation with you in a free telephone consultation.

If you have a tax debt with the IRS, the backlog at the IRS might make this the best time to seek an IRS Fresh Start Program or an IRS Offer In Compromise Program. Our tax experts will discuss with you why a big backlog at the IRS might make this the best time to make these arrangements.

Check Your Withholding

Now is an excellent time to check your withholding. Even if you are getting a refund on your 2021 taxes, changes in your life could impact your withholding and taxes due on your 2022 income.

You need to update your withholding when there is a change in your job, your income, and your life. These changes are pretty obvious: you bought a house, or got married, or got divorced, and you’re paying or collecting alimony, or you had a baby, or your “baby” is now an adult and is no longer your dependent.

You might also want to change your withholding because you need forced savings. It surprises me that some taxpayers feel this way and welcome a big refund check because there are better ways to have forced savings.

The IRS form to change your withholding at work is the W-4. Get the form from your employer or on the IRS.gov website.

If you require forced savings, ask your employer if there is a company savings plan or a company stock ownership plan, or an IRA or 401(k) plan that might get you an additional employer contribution.

As of April 1st, the IRS reported that the average refund for the 2021 tax year was $3,226. That’s better than $60 per week, which taxpayers could have used, saved, or invested during the course of 2021.

Maybe $60 per week doesn’t ring bells for you, but $3,226 does? Having too much withholding is one of those personal decisions you need to make.

More importantly, avoid being under-withheld because that could trigger penalties and a big headache when tax time comes around.

If you have a tax issue, get professional guidance. Legal Tax Defense offers a free consultation on tax issues. Call us now to be connected to a tax attorney for your free consultation.

Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues. 

The IRS Might Owe You Money

If you have an unfiled income tax return there is the possibility that the IRS might owe you money. If the IRS does owe you the money you have to file a tax return to get it. And you have only a few years to get that refund — otherwise, the money stays with the IRS.

The IRS says that Unclaimed income tax refunds totaling almost $1.5 billion may be waiting for an estimated 1.5 million taxpayers who did not file a 2018 Form 1040 federal income tax return, but people must act before the April tax deadline, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

“The IRS wants to help people who are due refunds but haven’t filed their 2018 tax returns yet,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “But people need to act quickly. By law, there’s only a three-year window to claim these refunds, which closes with this year’s April tax deadline. We want to help people get these refunds, but they need to file a 2018 tax return before this critical deadline.”

The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2018 to be $813 — that is, half of the refunds are more than $813 and half are less.

In cases where a federal income tax return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity to claim a tax refund. If they do not file a tax return within three years, the money becomes the property of the U.S. Treasury. For 2018 tax returns, the window closes on April 18, 2022, for most taxpayers. Taxpayers living in Maine and Massachusetts have until April 19, 2022. The law requires taxpayers to properly address, mail, and ensure the tax return is postmarked by that date.

The IRS reminds taxpayers seeking a 2018 tax refund that their checks may be held if they have not filed tax returns for 2019 and 2020. In addition, the refund will be applied to any amounts still owed to the IRS or a state tax agency and may be used to offset unpaid child support or past due federal debts, such as student loans.

By failing to file a tax return, people stand to lose more than just their refund of taxes withheld or paid during 2018. Many low- and moderate-income workers may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). For 2018, the credit was worth as much as $6,431. The EITC helps individuals and families whose incomes are below certain thresholds. The thresholds for 2018 were:

  • $49,194 ($54,884 if married filing jointly) for those with three or more qualifying children;
  • $45,802 ($51,492 if married filing jointly) for people with two qualifying children;
  • $40,320 ($46,010 if married filing jointly) for those with one qualifying child; and
  • $15,270 ($20,950 if married filing jointly) for people without qualifying children.

The tax year 2018 returns must be filed with the IRS center listed on the last page of the current instructions. Current and prior-year tax forms (such as the tax year 2018 Form 1040, 1040-A, and 1040-EZ) and instructions are available on the IRS.gov Forms and Benefits page or by calling toll-free 800-TAX-FORM. However, taxpayers can e-file the tax year 2019 and later returns.

Taxpayers who are missing Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, or 5498 for the years 2018, 2019, or 2020 should request copies from their employer, bank, or other payers. Taxpayers who are unable to get missing forms from their employer or other payers can order a free wage and income transcript at IRS.gov. Alternatively, they can file Form 4506-T to request a wage and income transcript.

A wage and income transcript shows data from information returns received by the IRS, such as Forms W-2, 1098, 1099, Form 5498, and IRA contribution information. Taxpayers can use the information from the transcript to file their tax returns.

Surprisingly, many taxpayers who have unfiled returns actually get a refund. Call us here at Legal Tax Defense if you have unfiled returns or other tax problems. We offer free consultations. Call now to speak to a tax attorney.

Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues. 

The IRS and letter 6475

The IRS has announced that it has sent out Letter 6475. Did you get yours? Letter 6475 will help you file your IRS return for 2021, and it could help you avoid costly delays with your tax return.  With the completion of special mailings of all Letters 6475 to recipients of the third-round of Economic Impact Payments, the Internal Revenue Service reminds people to accurately claim any remaining third-round stimulus payment on their 2021 income tax return as the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit.

Through December 31, 2021, the IRS issued more than 175 million third-round payments totaling over $400 billion to individuals and families across the country. Most of the third-round payments were issued in the spring and early summer of 2021. The IRS continued to send plus-up payments through December if, after their 2020 tax return was processed last year, the taxpayer was eligible for additional amounts.

As required by law, the IRS is no longer issuing first-, second-, or third-round Economic Impact Payments. Instead, people who are missing a stimulus payment or got less than the full amount may be eligible to claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 or 2021 federal tax return.

Most eligible people already received the full amount of their credit in advance and didn’t need to include any information about this payment when they filed their 2021 tax return. This includes the additional payments – called “Plus-Up” Payments – the IRS issued to individuals who initially received a third-round Economic Impact Payment based on information on their 2019 tax return and were later eligible for a larger amount based on information on their 2020 tax return.

Individuals may securely access their IRS Online Account to view the total amount of the third-round Economic Impact Payment issued to them. This information became available on January 15, 2022, under the Tax Records page in Online Account. For married individuals filing a joint return, each spouse will need to log into their own Online Account or review their own Letter 6475 for their portion of their total joint payment.

Individuals are encouraged to double-check their bank accounts – especially in the early spring and summer of 2021 – to see whether they received a third-round payment in advance last year.

If an individual did not receive a third-round payment – and their IRS Online Account shows a payment amount greater than $0, or they received Notice 1444-C or Letter 6475 indicating that payment was issued to them – they should contact the IRS as soon as possible to see if a payment trace is needed. Note that Online Account shows the most current EIP information, so if a payment was issued and returned to the IRS, the amount shown in Online Account might be less than what is shown in their Letter 6475.

Individuals do not need to wait until their trace is complete to file their 2021 tax return. When completing the Recovery Rebate Credit Worksheet or answering EIP questions in the tax software, taxpayers have two options:

  • Use the amount on the Letter 6475 (or EIP 3 Amount from Online Account) to calculate the RRC amount on line 30. Contact the IRS to trace the EIP amount. Once the EIP trace is completed, the IRS and the taxpayer will receive notification of the results of the EIP trace (the account it was sent to and the amount or a copy of the cashed check).
    • If the trace indicates the taxpayer received the EIP amount, no further action is necessary.
    • If the EIP amount was not received by the taxpayer, the IRS will adjust the RRC amount on the tax return and issue a refund.
  • Use the amount of EIP the taxpayer believes they received to calculate the RRC amount on line 30. If the taxpayer’s calculation does not match the IRS calculation, the processing of the tax return will be delayed, the RRC amount will be adjusted to match IRS records, and the taxpayer will receive a notice that includes a telephone number to contact if they disagree with the change to the tax return. If the taxpayer contacts the IRS and disagrees with the changes made, IRS will conduct a trace of the EIP, if necessary. Once the EIP trace is completed, the IRS and the taxpayer will receive notification of the results of the EIP trace (the account it was sent to and the amount or a copy of the cashed check).
    • If the trace indicates the taxpayer received the EIP amount, no further action is necessary.
    • If the EIP amount was not received by the taxpayer, the IRS will adjust the RRC amount on the return and issue a refund.

Individuals who made a mistake calculating the Recovery Rebate Credit and claimed an amount on line 30 for the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit should not file an amended return. The IRS will correct the amount of the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit and send a notice identifying the changes made.

If a correction is needed, there may be a delay in processing the return. If the taxpayer agrees with the changes made by the IRS, no response or action is required to indicate they agree with the changes. If the taxpayer disagrees, they can call the toll-free number listed on the top right corner of their notice.

For eligible individuals who didn’t claim a Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2021 tax return (line 30 is blank or $0) and IRS records do not show the issuance of an Economic Impact Payment, they will need to file a Form 1040-X to claim the remaining amount of stimulus money for which they are eligible. This includes individuals who may not have received the full amount of their third-round Economic Impact Payment because their circumstances in 2021 were different than they were in 2020.

Taxpayers who need to file an amended return to claim the 2021 Recovery Rebate Credit – even if they don’t usually file taxes – should use the worksheet in the tax return booklet to determine the amount of the credit. Enter the amount on the Refundable Credits section of Form 1040-X and include “Recovery Rebate Credit” in the Explanation of Changes section. Call us now to speak to a tax attorney.

Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues. 

The Tax Circle Never Ends

The tax circle never ends, and you can take that to the bank or, more correctly, send some money to the IRS.

April 18 marks the date that 2021 IRS tax returns are due for most taxpayers, and April 18 marks the date that the cycle begins all over again for 2022.

The Internal Revenue Service has sent out word that those who make estimated tax payments, such as self-employed individuals, retirees, investors, businesses, corporations, and others that the payment for the first quarter of 2022 is due Monday, April 18.

This will be their first quarterly tax payment.

Income taxes are a pay-as-you-go process. This means, by law, taxes must be paid as income is earned or received during the year. Most people pay their taxes through withholding from paychecks, pension payments, Social Security benefits, or certain other government payments, including unemployment compensation.

So those who are self-employed or in the gig economy need to make their own estimated quarterly tax payments.

Similarly, investors, retirees, and others often need to make these payments because a substantial portion of their income is not subject to withholding. Other income generally not subject to withholding includes interest, dividends, capital gains, alimony, and rental income. Paying quarterly estimated taxes will usually lessen and may even eliminate any tax penalties.

Exceptions to the penalty and special rules apply to some groups of taxpayers, such as farmers and fishers, casualty and disaster victims, those who recently became disabled, recent retirees, and those who receive income unevenly during the year.

If you have questions about your tax return. Call now to consult with a tax professional.

A tax professional can also help you understand how certain tax deductions are changed for 2022.

If you have a tax issue, Legal Tax Defense offers a free consultation. Call now to speak to a tax attorney.

Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues. 

Step By Step Extension Instructions

Here are the very simple step-by-step instructions to file for an automatic 6-months extension on your IRS paperwork.

Remember that this is an extension on your paperwork only and not an extension on any money you owe.

Also, remember you don’t have to file for an extension on your paperwork if you are “ten thousand percent absolutely positive no chance ever sure” that you will get a refund from the IRS for your 2021 taxes.

But just in case you are not “ten thousand percent absolutely positive no chance ever sure” that you will get a refund, send in the automatic extension form anyway so you can avoid some very expensive penalties.

The extension form is form 4868. You can download it from www.irs.gov and mail it in. But you can also have it sent online to the IRS through any number of online tax filing software companies at no charge and without a postage stamp.

Here’s an easy way:

  1. Go to the IRS website www.irs.gov and on the home page, click on “file your taxes for free.”
  2. On the page for “file your taxes for free,” click on the link for “ask for an extension to file.”
  3. You’ll now be taken to a page that says, “everyone can file an extension for free.” This page is for free filing services that are restricted by income. But no matter what your income, you can still use it to file a free tax extension.
  4. You will now see links to six companies offering free tax filing software. Choose a company. Register — and then follow their links to file the extension. You are under no further obligations.
  5. You do not sign the extension form. You will receive a confirmation your extension was sent in. Keep the confirmation on your computer.

That’s it.

Your state government may have its own tax extension. Check with your state or ask your tax professional.

Always consult with a tax professional.

By the way, many people who waited for one, two, or three years to file a return have found out they were due a refund.

If you failed to file your tax return or owed the IRS money, call now to speak with a tax attorney.

Disclaimer: Alan Mendelson is a well-known TV consumer news reporter who reports on tax issues. You should seek professional advice if you have tax questions or issues.