Many individuals, couples, and businesses are putting off filing their 2019 tax returns because; they can. Others, because they qualify for stimulus checks in 2018 but not 2019; it’s not 100% clear yet that this is a good idea. Either way, April 15th and many other tax deadlines have been extended, so why not wait? This thinking reminds me of the old fable about the tortoise and the hare. It seemed to the hare that he always had more time, until he didn’t. In the end, when all the current confusion about the myriad of government tax and stimulus mechanisms finally gets resolved, it may not matter when one files their taxes. However, to the rest of us, it may make a tremendous difference in terms of maximizing benefits of said tax and stimulus opportunities, obtaining them quickly, or at all.
Many details are still murky, even application instructions. So, as the government decides who gets what and when, not having one’s 2019 tax returns already properly filed may wind up as a significant obstacle, both in qualifying and when said benefits might arrive. Think about it, if you were dolling out money to a group of individuals, would the fact that some might owe you money have any influence on who, when and how much? To be clear, with the exceptions listed below, and to the best of our knowledge, no such provisions have been made, yet…
Further, it’s not unheard of for really good government programs to run out of money. And there are some really good programs in the CARES ACT including stimulus checks, forgivable loans, etc. At some point, it may matter if one has paid their 2019 taxes even though the deadline has not yet arrived. One example of who should absolutely file their 2019 tax returns immediately, is everyone that wants a stimulus check and were a dependent in 2018 but not 2019. Individuals in this situation run the risk of not getting a stimulus check if they don’t file their 2019 tax return!
Also, if a stimulus program makes sense for your situation, applying for it should not be delayed either! Government bureaucracies are famous for taking longer than expected to process applications, and just about everything else, but especially giving away money! So, if one of these programs make sense for you, don’t delay your application and don’t delay filing your 2019 tax return because with all the work stoppages and confusion, who knows how long applications and tax return processing on the government’s end will take? Hopefully this never happens to anyone, but being approved for much needed aid, but approved pending completion of 2019 tax return could be a nightmare if the IRS is taking longer than normal to process returns, or worse indefinite. Particularly when, at some point, receipt of an SBA loan for paycheck protection or stimulus check may become urgent. Think DMV, and you may agree that waiting on any government agency to perform their duty quickly, is never a good plan, one delays at their own peril.
A word of caution, if waiting to file your 2019 tax returns is a stratagem to get government assistance you otherwise don’t qualify for, remember, the IRS has a history of sending folks employing such clever techniques friendly personalized notices and invitations to be audited. As these programs mature and funds start to dissipate, having your 2019 tax returns completed may very well help you benefit by one of these programs, so please don’t delay. Waiting just because you think you can may have unintended consequences, just like with the hare; so, don’t be like the hare!