Keeping Track of Taxes all Year: A Personal Tax Calendar

April 22, 2016 : Monica Welsh

One great way to maximize tax savings and minimize any tax fees or penalties is to become familiar with important dates and milestones that trigger tax implications. There is a long list of specific dates that have tax significance for some, and often times all, taxpayers. Additionally, there are a variety of events that may take place throughout the year that should indicate a possible tax consequence or savings to a taxpayer. Below you will find a tax calendar of important dates and events that every taxpayer should keep in mind throughout the year that will aid in providing tax savings each year.

Important Tax Dates

January:

  • 1: tax year begins for any calendar year taxpayer
    • Includes most individuals, sole proprietors and businesses, unless they have applied for a fiscal year with the IRS
  • 15: Make the 4th estimated tax payment for the previous tax year
    • A taxpayer, such as a self-employed individual, will have estimated payments if they did not pay their income tax for the year through withholding or will not pay enough through withholding
    • No need to make the 4th estimated payment by the 15th if the taxpayer will file their previous year return and pay any tax due by Jan. 31
  • 15: Farmers and Fisherman
    • Those making estimated payments must pay their entire tax liability for the previous year by this date
  • 31: W-2s due from employers; Form 1099s due from payers of interest, dividends and other specified types of income
  • 31: If the taxpayer did not make their last estimated payment by Jan. 15, they can file their return by today and pay any tax still due.
    • This prevents a penalty for late payment of the final installment

February:

  • 15: If a taxpayer was exempt from tax withholding for the previous year, they must file a new Form W-4 to continue the tax exemption for the current year

March

  • 1: Farmers and Fisherman
    • Those that do not make estimated payments must file their return and pay their taxes by this date

April:

  • 15 (approximately; this year is April 18): Federal and most state individual tax returns are due
    • Submit Form 4648 to get an automatic six-month extension to file the federal return
      • New deadline will move to Oct. 15 or there about, depending on holidays and weekends
      • IRS will charge interest unless the taxpayer makes a payment that’s close to their tax liability – this payment can be made with Form 4868
    • 15: last day to set up an IRA or make IRA contributions for the previous year, even if the taxpayer has received an extension
    • 15: If the taxpayer will make estimated tax payments for the current year, the first payment is due April 15.
    • 15: Farmers and Fisherman
      • Those that made all estimated payments for the previous by Jan. 15, must file their return by this date

June:

  • 15: Taxpayers that work and live outside the U.S. and Puerto Rico must file their Form 1040s and pay any tax, interest and penalties due
    • These taxpayer may file Form 4868 to obtain a four-month extension
      • Members of the armed forces in a combat zone may be able to further extend their filing deadline
    • 15: Taxpayers making estimated tax payments must make their second estimated payment for the current year.

September:

  • 15: Taxpayers making estimated payments must make their third estimated payment for the current year

October:

  • 1: deadline for establishing a SIMPLE IRA
  • 15 or there about: If taxpayer filed Form 4868 to extend their deadline, their return and any tax, interest or penalties are due
  • 15: the Last day for re-characterizing an IRA contribution for the year if the taxpayer filed their return on time
  • 15: The last day for making many elections the IRS required the taxpayer to make by the due date of their previous year return if they filed their return on time 

Seasonal Milestones to think about

 Beginning of Year

  • Itemized deductions
    • If in years past you claimed the standard deduction, consider itemizing deductions to reduce your taxes. Do this by bundling your deductions in the current tax year
      • Make an early or extra mortgage payment during the year
      • Increase charitable deductions for the year
      • Look at medical expenses that can be planned and bunch your medical expenses all within the year. Think about braces of a dependent if you know other factors (such as surgery, or having a baby) will occur making it likely you will hit your deductible this year

Year End

  • Charitable contributions
    • Make all charitable contributions, either cash or tangible property, before the end of the year to take advantage of the charitable contribution deduction
  • Stock sale planning
    • If you are going to have a large capital gain for the year, consider selling off some securities that could generate a loss and minimize your capital gains for the year
  • Retirement
    • Contributions to a retirement plan can reduce taxable income
      • Must be made to a 401(k) or 403(b) by Dec. 31
      • Must be made to an IRA or other qualified plan by April 15 of the following year

Tax Implicating Events to Think About Throughout the Year

  • Moving expenses
    • If the move was related to a job, be sure to keep a log of expenses and retain any receipts in order to be able to deduct any eligible moving expenses.
  • Business travel
    • If the taxpayer’s employer does not use an accountable plan, be sure to keep receipts and other necessary materials in order to be able to take a deduction for travel expenses.
  • Children’s summer camp
  • Tip earners
    • By the 10th of each month, a taxpayer must report the amount of tips of $20 or more made in the previous month
      • Report must be made to the taxpayer’s employer
      • Tips include cash, checks and credit card tips
    • If the 10th falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date is the next business day that isn’t a weekend or holiday

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Monica Welsh

Monica Welsh

The Tax Institute, H&R Block

Monica is a tax research analyst in the Tax Institute. She specializes in the areas of business and investment. Monica is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law with a JD and an LLM in tax.