Tax Topics

Jackson Hewitt® is here to help you understand complex tax laws so you can be better informed and take full advantage of tax law provisions.

These topics explore some of the more important aspects of complicated tax laws, in a manner that is understandable and concise.


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Filing Your Return

Jackson Hewitt offers two ways to file your tax return. Customers can choose 
IRS e-file or request that we mail a paper return to the IRS.

Click one of the following links for more information on filing your return:

  • Filing a Paper Return
  • Electronic Filing
  • When to File
  • Filing Late
  • Amended Returns
  • Filing an Extension
  • Electronic Filing of Extensions
  • Installment Agreement
  • Record Keeping
  • Getting Copies of Past Tax Returns
  • Estimated Taxes
  • Estimated Tax Penalty
  • $3 Presidential Election Campaign
  • Change of Address
  • Deadline for Sending Forms W-2

Contact your local Jackson Hewitt office for more information or assistance.

Filing a Paper Return

The IRS no longer mails out tax packets, however, you can still file your tax return on paper through the mail. It is important to realize that the processing time and chances for an error increase when you mail your return because it must be entered by a data entry clerk into the IRS computer system before processing. You may be mailing your return to a different address than in the past because the IRS has changed the filing locations for several areas. To find the address of the appropriate Internal Revenue Service Center listed for your state check the Form 1040 Instructions or go to the IRS website. If you are a Jackson Hewitt customer, you'll find the filing address on the Customer Letter you received with your tax return.

Electronic Filing

IRS e-file is the electronic transmission of your tax return to the IRS. Jackson Hewitt provides free electronic filing of federal and state returns for all customers who pay for tax preparation. For a fee, we can also e-file a tax return that you prepared yourself, or that was not prepared by Jackson Hewitt. This is called a Transmit-Only Return. Fees for Transmit-Only are set locally by each Jackson Hewitt office. Contact your neighborhood office to learn more.

You must have a valid tax identification number, such as a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), for every person included on the return to qualify for electronic filing.

When to File

January 30, 2013 is the first date the IRS will accept and process tax returns for the 2013 tax season. April 15, 2013 is the due date for most taxpayers to file their 2012 income tax returns.

Paper Returns

Your paper return is filed on time if it is mailed in an envelope that is properly addressed and postmarked by the due date. If you send your return by registered mail, the date of the registration is the postmark date. The registration is evidence that the return was delivered. If you send a return by certified mail and have your receipt postmarked by a postal employee, the date on the receipt is the postmark date. The postmarked certified mail receipt is evidence that the return was delivered.

If you use a private delivery service designated by the IRS to send your return, the postmark date generally is the date the private delivery service records in its database or marks on the mailing label. The private delivery service can tell you how to obtain written proof of this date. IRS designated private delivery services are listed below:

  • DHL Worldwide Express (DHL): DHL Same Day Service
  • Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First
  • United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express

e-Filed Returns

If you e-file, your return is considered filed on time if the authorized electronic return transmitter postmarks the transmission by the due date. The electronic postmark is a record of when the authorized electronic return transmitter received the transmission of your electronically filed return on its host system. The date and time in your time zone controls whether your electronically filed return is timely.

Filing Late

If you do not file your return by the due date, you may be subject to a failure-to-file penalty and interest. To avoid penalties and interest, file for an extension by April 15, 2013.

If you were due a refund, but you did not file a return, you must file within three years from the date the return was originally due to obtain that refund.

Amended Returns

If you filed a tax return and later realized that you have omitted income or overlooked some deductions, you can amend your return by filing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return . Generally, you must file your amended return within three years of the date you filed your original return or two years after paying taxes, whichever is later. You cannot change your filing status from Married Filing Jointly to Married Filing Separately after the due date of the original return.

Do not file Form 1040X to file an injured spouse claim. Instead mail Form 8379, Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation, by itself to the same Internal Revenue Service Center where you filed the joint return. Include copies of all Forms W-2, W-2G, and 1099-R that show income tax withheld.

Do not include any penalties or interest on Form 1040X. They will be adjusted accordingly.

File a separate Form 1040X for each year you are amending. When you amend your federal return, you may also need to amend your state return. It may take the IRS two to three months to process Form 1040X.

Amended returns cannot currently be e-filed.

For example, Henry filed his return in January, and paid the $129 balance due with that return. Two weeks later, Henry received an additional Form W-2. Because Henry had already filed his Form 1040, he must file Form 1040X to amend his return and report this additional income.

Filing an Extension

When you file an extension, you can postpone filing your return until October 15, 2013. However, if you do not pay any tax due by April 15, 2013, you will accrue penalty and interest charges. Complete Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file for a six-month extension. If you estimate that you have a balance due, include this payment with the form.

For example, James and Sally are married and file a joint return. Their home was damaged by a tornado and they have contacted their investment company to resend them Forms 1099 so they can file their tax return. It does not appear that they will have this information by April 15, so they decide to ask for an extension by filing Form 4868. James and Sally estimate that their total tax liability will be $1,843. Their Forms W-2 indicate that a total of $1,215 of federal income tax has been withheld. To avoid late payment penalty and interest, James and Sally should pay $628 with their Form 4868.

E-filing Extensions

The IRS offers e-filing of extension applications. The IRS will process Form 4868 through the original due date of your tax return. By filing an extension, you postpone the filing date of your return until October 15, 2013; however, any tax due on the return will be subject to interest and penalties if not paid by the due date, or April 15, 2013.

Installment Agreement

If you are not in bankruptcy and have a balance due, but cannot pay your full tax liability by April 15, you should consider the IRS installment plan. To request an installment agreement, complete Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, and attach it to the front of your tax return or include it with an e-filed return. You can also request an Installment Agreement after you file your tax return by filing Form 9465 by itself to the address shown in the form instructions or by e-filing Form 9465 by itself. If the IRS approves the request, you will be charged a fee and interest on any unpaid balance. Although you generally may have up to 60 months to pay, you should make the payments large enough so that the balance due will be paid off by the due date of your next return. Interest will be assessed on the outstanding balance each month until the balance is paid in full. Before requesting an Installment Agreement, you should consider less costly alternatives, such as a bank loan.

To learn how Jackson Hewitt can help you pay your balance due, ask your tax preparer to tell you about the Flex-Pay® Program, which provides four balance-due payment options.

Record Keeping

It is a good idea to keep your previous tax returns, as well as other important documents that have affected your income and deductions, for at least three years. If you need a copy of a prior-year return, you can obtain it for a fee from the IRS by filing Form 4506, Request for Copy of Tax Return . If you are a Jackson Hewitt customer, you can receive free copies of your prior-year tax returns from any Jackson Hewitt office nationwide.

Getting Copies of Past Tax Returns

If you are buying a home, your mortgage banker may ask for copies of several prior years' tax returns. If you cannot locate them, file Form 4506 with the IRS immediately. For a fee, the IRS will mail you copies of your past returns. This can take up to 60 calendar days. If you are a Jackson Hewitt customer, you can receive free copies of your prior-year tax returns much quicker.

Estimated Taxes

Taxpayers who expect to owe at least $1,000 in taxes after subtracting withholding and credits are usually required to pay estimated quarterly taxes. For estimated tax purposes, the year is divided into four payment periods. Generally, payments are due on April 15, June 15, September 15, and January 15 of the next year. If the due date falls on a weekend or a legal holiday, the due date will be the next business day.

Estimated Tax Penalty

If you did not pay enough tax either through withholding or by making estimated tax payments, you will have an underpayment of estimated tax and you may be subject to a penalty. Generally, there will be no penalty for underpayment unless the amount you owe is $1,000 or more. If the amount you owe is $1,000 or more, you can avoid a penalty by withholding or making estimated tax payments equal to at least 90% of your current year tax. Another way to avoid a penalty is by withholding or making estimated tax payments that are at least equal to the tax shown on your last year's tax return (110% of that amount if the adjusted gross income on last year's return is $150,000 or more, or, if Married Filing Separately, $75,000). If you filed a tax return last year and did not have a tax liability, you do not owe a penalty this year, no matter how much tax you owe.

$3 Presidential Election Campaign

There is a check box that asks you if you want $3 to go to the Presidential Election Campaign. If you mark the check box, it will not change the tax you pay or the refund you will receive. This fund helps pay the expenses of presidential election campaigns.

Change of Address

Are you planning a move before the end of the year? The IRS has an official change-of-address form, Form 8822, Change of Address. You should complete and mail this form to the IRS whenever your address changes. The IRS and the federal courts considers any mail sent to the last address on-file as timely delivered and all collection processes can commence within any timeframe quoted, even though you no longer live at that address.

Deadline for Sending Forms W-2

Generally, the IRS requires employers to mail Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to their employees on or before January 31. If you still have not received a Form W-2 within a reasonable number of days after January 31 contact your employer. If a Form W-2 is not provided in a reasonable time, you may use payroll stubs to determine the income from that employer for income tax purposes. The information from the payroll stubs can be used to complete Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, Etc.

Generally, the IRS requests you wait at least until February 15 before filing with a substitute Form W-2.

Jackson Hewitt may be able to download your W-2 information before you receive your Forms W-2 in the mail. Find out if you can take advantage of this free service to jump-start your tax return!