This morning I logged on to EFTPS, pronounced eff-tips and officially known as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, to set up my final 2013 tax year estimated payment due next week.
Despite a few glitches now and then, I've been a pretty satisfied user of the Treasury Department's electronic tax payment service. I make our annual Internal Revenue Service bill payments (and yes, we usually owe) via EFTPS, saving us any credit card fees for paying with plastic.
And the best part is that with EFTPS you can schedule recurring payments, such as estimated taxes, well in advance to make sure you don't miss the deadlines.
Don't ignore due dates: The IRS is serious about its due dates. If you don't file any tax payment on the proper day, you end up paying interest and possibly penalties.
The biggie, of course, is April 15 or the next business day when the deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday. That's when our annual tax filings and payments if we owe are due every year.
But the start of a new tax year also is full of important filing tasks keyed to the calendar.
So today's Daily Tax Tip is a look at some critical January 2014 tax dates and deadlines.
Monday, Jan. 13: The IRS begins accepting 2013 business tax returns on this day. This applies to both electronically-filed and paper-filed returns.
The types of returns the IRS will take on Jan. 13 including Form 1120 filed by corporations, Form 1120S filed by S corporations, Form 1065 filed by partnerships and Form 1041, the return filed by estates and trusts. It also includes various excise and payroll tax returns, such as Form 720, Form 940, Form 941 and Form 2290.
The Jan. 13 business filing start date, however, does not apply to unincorporated small businesses that report their income on Form 1040. This includes sole proprietors who file a Schedule C, landlords who file a Schedule E and farmers who file a Schedule F.
Wednesday, Jan. 15: Make your final estimated tax payment for 2013 on this day.
You'll need to send in the appropriate 1040ES voucher if you file by mail. In that case, you simply need to ensure that your envelope is postmarked by Jan. 15.
Also make sure you send it to the correct IRS processing center. It might not be the same one that handles your annual Form 1040.
Or you can pay your final estimated tax amount for the just-passed tax year electronically. That's generally by using EFTPS like me or paying with a debit or credit card.
Friday, Jan. 17: If you're eligible to use Free File, that no-cost electronic tax preparation and filing program is open for business on this day.
As I noted in Free File 2014 opens Jan. 17, although the participating software companies will start accepting returns from taxpayers whose 2013 adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less, the IRS won't actually start processing them until Jan. 31. Free File providers will simply hold taxpayers' completed tax returns until the last day of the month before submitting them.
That means, unfortunately, that you'll still have to wait for your refund, which is why you're so anxious to file, right? But at least you'll get your taxes off your desk and at the head of the IRS line when it does start working on 2013 returns.
More business tax deadlines: While individual taxpayers get to cool our heels for a couple of weeks, business filers have to attend to some additional tax duties.
Payroll tax deposits continue to be due on Jan. 17, 23 and 29. Other business tax deadlines are detailed in the IRS' online tax calendar for companies.
Then comes the end of the month, a big tax day for businesses and individuals.
Friday, Jan. 31: On the business side this day, companies must deposit any unemployment tax (FUTA) owed through December 2013, as well as file Form 2290 and pay the tax for vehicles first used during the last month of last year.
The last day of January (except when it falls on a weekend or federal holiday) also is the day that companies must furnish, which means actually provide or at least have in the mail, W-2 forms to employees who worked for them during the prior year.
This W-2 requirement also applies to employers of household help. This is commonly referred to as the nanny tax since so many folks get tripped up by the tax responsibilities of hiring child-care workers, but it applies to all types of hired help around the homestead. Don't you be one of them. Get those W-2s out to your household workers by today.
On the individual side, if you didn't make your final estimated tax payment by Jan. 15, you must file your Form 1040 and pay your tax balance in full by Jan. 31.
And, finally, the big ta-dah tax date for this filing season.
Jan. 31 is the day that the IRS will finally start processing 2013's individual tax returns.
Mark your January calendar and make the tax most of this month!
If you miss my additional tax thoughts over at that personal financial website tax blog, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can always find a synopsis here on the ol' blog the following weekend.
You also might find these items of interest: