Preparing for Tax Season: Understanding Your Deadlines

( – Everyone’s favorite time of year is coming up; it will be tax season before you know it. It’s a good idea to know the deadlines ahead of time. For most individuals, tax filings are due on April 15th, but there are other key dates to note for freelance workers, businesses, and others.

For individuals in general

Most people have a filing date of April 15th. If you’re an employee of any company (not a freelancer or contractor), your employer automatically deducts your state and federal taxes throughout the year. Employers must send you a Form W-2 by January 31 for the prior year; you will use this form when completing your filing, usually a Form 1040 for individuals and married people. The “tax year” for most individuals is the calendar year; your W-2 will reflect income from the prior year.

If you’re late, April 15th is also the deadline to file an extension with the IRS on Form 4868.

For Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) and S-Corporations

The deadline to file your tax paperwork is generally March 15th unless your LLC operates on a different “fiscal year.” An LLC does not pay tax directly; the owners of the company pay tax as their individual income when they take a payment from the LLC. But LLCs are required to file an annual form with the IRS, and also with the state in which they are incorporated.

Taxes for S-corporations have some similarities to those for LLCs, but they are more involved. The IRS provides guidance here.

For freelancers, gig workers, and independent contractors

When you work as a freelancer, you have to set aside your own taxes and pay them quarterly, since no employer is deducting them from your paycheck. A good rule of thumb is to set aside 25% of what you earn from each check. You will be responsible for paying your state and federal taxes, and also Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Freelancers are also required to pay the IRS these taxes quarterly on the following dates: April 15th, June 15th, September 15th, and January 15th (into the next year). If you are any kind of freelancer or contractor—an author, food delivery driver, consultant, or any other kind of self-employment—the clients you work for must send you a Form 1099 by January 31st of the following year. This is the freelancer version of the W-2 that you would expect from a regular employer. It shows the total you were paid, and the client must also file a copy of that Form 1099 with the IRS.

Don’t forget state taxes

State filing deadlines usually mirror federal deadlines, but it’s a good idea to check with your state’s tax department to be sure.

TurboTax has a list of deadlines and filing requirements for most situations here. Kiplinger’s also has a month-by-month run-down of deadlines that apply to most tax situations.

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