Advice on filing your taxes amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Posted at 3:24 PM, Mar 31, 2020

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, almost nothing feels normal. Simply walking out your home comes with new rules to follow. Now, filing taxes this year is causing some confusion.

“Normally, busy season is a challenge in and of itself, but this has added many more layers,” said Elieen Sherr, with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Sherr has had an increase number of people confused on whether they are supposed to file their income taxes now, or if the federal income tax deadline extension applies to them.

“This all happened in the last few weeks, and the states, they were waiting for the IRS to come out with their guidance,” said Sherr. “At first, it was just payment relief. Then, it was filing and payment relief, so that was confusing.”

Sherr explained, just shy of the normal tax deadline, there is now some clearer guidance.

The federal government has extended it deadline for federal tax filing and payments to July 15. Many states have now moved their filing deadlines to match, although Texas does not have a state income tax.

However, in a few states like Mississippi, Virginia, and Idaho, you have to file earlier. The deadline is May 15 in Mississippi, June 1 for Virginia, and June 15 in Idaho.

Differing state and federal deadlines have some wondering if you file your state return early can you file your federal at the later deadline?

“Generally, you have to start with the federal, so you will have to start with the federal to get to a state return,” said Sherr.

Some good news in that instance: if you owe money on your federal return, you won’t have to pay that until July 15. If you are someone who is getting money back, even better news, returns are being processed right now, without delays.

“They want to get the money out to everybody, especially the refund,” Sherr explained. “They want to get it into the economy so they are doing the best they can.”