How to Handle Your Taxes During an Economic Crisis

Whether it is a global pandemic shutting the economy down for months on end, a stock market crash that leaves formerly giddy investors frightened and nervous or a housing crisis that makes real estate a risky bet, living through tough economic times is never easy.

Even so, how you handle yourself and your money during the crisis could make all the difference in the world, and if you do it right, you could emerge stronger, wiser and richer on the other side.

Handling taxes can be especially difficult during times of crisis. With your income uncertain, it can be hard to predict how much you might owe the IRS or how you can make those payments. And if you are self-employed or a gig worker, this economic uncertainty can be even greater.

So, what can you do about your taxes when the economy takes a downturn? Here are some tips to make tax time less taxing when crisis strikes.

Research Filing Extensions and Be Aware of New Deadlines

When economic turmoil strikes, tax filing deadlines may be extended or otherwise relaxed, so do your homework and see how much time you really have. If you are struggling to make your tax payment, you may have some breathing room after all.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRS extended the normal tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15, and many state and local governments followed suit. The same may happen in future crises, and it never hurts to find out for sure.

File Promptly if You Are Expecting a Refund

Getting extra time to file can be a welcome relief if you owe money to the IRS, but if the tax agency owes you, it makes sense to file as quickly as possible. The processing of tax refunds is often disrupted during a crisis, with short staffing and different procedures suddenly in place. The sooner you file, the sooner you will have your tax refund money, and that cash could make a world of difference to your financial situation.

How you handle that tax refund is important as well, so think about what you will be doing with the money while you are waiting for it to arrive. If you have the extra cash to do so, contributing to an IRA or other tax shelter could reduce the amount you owe going forward, giving you even more money to work with in the years to come.

File Promptly if You Are NOT Expecting a Refund or Might Owe Back Taxes

The IRS is starting to enforce collections again, but they’re also not oblivious to the financial crisis we’re in. With almost 40 million Americans unemployed, we now have the highest unemployment rate since the Great Depression.

The outlook is still uncertain, and the IRS knows Americans need to get back to work and buying things to stimulate the economy. It’s tougher to do that with a huge tax bill weighing you down.

So right now, the IRS will likely consider settlements and more favorable terms to taxpayers in trouble, especially if their income drastically decreased due to COVID-19. So, it’s important to file your taxes and be current in order to explore tax relief options.

IMPORTANT: I highly recommend readers to reach out to me, Jim Liang, first. My clients never have to talk to the IRS, and resolving your IRS and state tax problems through my firm can save you money and time in the long run. You might also be eligible for other relief programs or get your penalties and interest forgiven. Reach out to my firm today for a consultation.

Are Your Investments Down? Use It to Reduce the Amount You Owe

It is easy to feel depressed when the stock market is tumbling and reaching new lows every day, but there could be a silver lining to that financial cloud. Engaging in strategic tax loss harvesting now could reduce your tax bill substantially when filing season rolls around. Tax-loss harvesting is when you sell investments at a loss in order to reduce your tax liability.

If you have investments that have not worked out like you hoped, selling them now and locking in the loss can be a great way to offset capital gains and lower your taxable income. This strategy is not the right choice for everyone, but it can be effective in certain circumstances.

Whether the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, the stock market is in free fall or real estate is suddenly on sale, the economic crises that are triggered can make tax time even more difficult.

If you want to stay financially solvent and avoid penalties, interest and other serious consequences, the strategies listed above can help you do it.

My firm specializes in tax resolution. I also serve clients virtually so don’t hesitate to reach out. If you want an experienced tax resolution specialist who knows how to navigate the IRS maze, reach out to me to schedule a no-obligation confidential consultation to explain your options to permanently resolve your tax problem.

Categories: Filing 2019 Taxes

Meet Jim Liang

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Jim has over 20 years of experience as a CPA in Maryland, completing state and federal taxes for individuals, families, and businesses. He also has over a decade of legal experience representing clients in audits, collections, and disputes with the IRS and Comptroller of Maryland.

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