One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency. — Arnold H. Glasow
Like many native New Yorkers, my mom moved to Florida once she reached a certain age, and I annually round up the family and drive south to visit her. One Christmas Eve, after a particularly long 1,500-mile journey, we arrived at her house and began preparing for a party. I received a phone call from a client, and my mother got annoyed.
“What was that?” she asked.
“It was a client emergency,” I responded.
“You’re a tax lawyer. What’s the emergency on Christmas Eve?”
“Panic doesn’t take a holiday, mom.”
I’ve always thought of today – the day before filing – as Christmas Eve for all tax professionals. The gift tomorrow is that I’ve reached “the end” of the season, but I’ll still be on-call.
Here are some quick tips for business owners and taxpayers who are scrambling:
- Don’t be a hero. File for extension. If you don’t yet have postage on your envelope, then you’ll have to file for extension. Do not try to make the deadline if you’re missing critical information for the tax return. Accept that you’ll have to extend, and you and your adviser will deal with it shortly.
- Try to make a good faith payment. This is different than sending in a piecemeal tax return. Show that you intend to honor your debt.
- Call your accountant or tax lawyer. I know a lot of tax pros who take vacations in the weeks following Tax Day. They’re just as entitled as anyone, so don’t complain. Try to schedule your follow-up for the day or two after they return to the office and, while you’re there, commit to your next two or three quarterly visits.
- Know the definition of an emergency. Your failure to plan does not constitute an emergency. The dissolution of your company, however, is an emergency.
- Remember that extensions only defer filing to October 15. It will not stop you from paying penalties. It’s another fact you will just have to accept.
The sole reason to be at the post office today and tomorrow is to buy appropriate postage with return receipt.
No business owner or taxpayer, looking to dodge some late penalties, should be at the post office at Moynihan Station tomorrow, first completing their tax returns. I’ll be the happy SOB passing you with a couple of six-packs and a bottle of Prosecco.
To my fellow tax and accounting professionals who are also in the trenches: Let’s tough it out together for one more day. This will happen every year, though, so you’re either cut out for it, or you’re not. Hopefully you are, and you’re looking forward to a nice bonus and decent vacation.
Contact Brinen & Associates with your tax questions.