What Are Your Rights? Simplifying Tax Season

Man: Segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Well, tax season is upon us and the deadline to file your tax return is just a little over two months away. I’m sure many of you have questions, I know I do. Here to help examine this issue and help simplify tax time for us as managing partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, welcome.

Paul: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thanks for being here again. All right, so we’ll jump right into it. Everyone has to file, correct?

Paul: Well, you know, you don’t, you don’t have to file.

Interviewer: There are some exceptions.

Paul: Well, you know, it’s funny, if you don’t make any money, you don’t have to file. But aside from that, sure, you know, depends on what status you’re in. You know, if you’re single, married filing jointly, you get deductions, you may not pay tax, but yes, filing is very important thing, but not everyone has to file. You have to have some income.

Interviewer: Yes, there are some exceptions. Okay. When is the deadline to file?

Paul: So April 15th is the deadline, there are extensions available but that is the easiest way to do it.

Interviewer: All right. So our viewers at home, what happens if, say you don’t file or maybe you file later but you haven’t requested an extension?

Paul: Well, you know, if you don’t file or you don’t like what you wrote down the first time and you want to change it, there are ways to do it. Honest mistakes when you’re doing your taxes where maybe you attempted to deduct something that you said, well in hindsight maybe I shouldn’t have, you could just do an amended return, okay? Amended returns, IRS loves that, kind of self-reporting, you pay the tax, no penalties. But if the IRS taxes you, you know, says we’re not gonna allow that deduction or we’re gonna charge you more, you can go to tax court and there’s an actual court where you can go, argue your case, you’ll get a decision, and a lot of people do that. You know, we…we’re kind of, there’s just two camps, either people who are afraid of the IRS, don’t even want them calling or they fight them tooth and nail.

Interviewer: Say you file and now you’re later audited but you don’t necessarily agree with that audit?

Paul: You know, it really comes down to if you are audited and you just sort of made a mistake or you audited and they made a mistake, they don’t make many, it’s okay. You know, you’re gonna pay maybe some penalty but often they’ll waive the penalty, happy to get their tax dollars.

Interviewer: All right. Really quickly, we have seen some celebrities go to jail for, you know, tax fraud and things like that. If you file a return and you make an honest mistake, will you have to go to jail?

Paul: You will not. You know, you can’t be completely out of touch with the world, right? You can’t…I didn’t know I had to file a return, but do something, honest mistake, no jail. But if you are fraudulent, you tried to say something that didn’t actually occur, you don’t report income, it’s readily there. You know, we’ve seen it and so they do the celebrity thing, so then we’re all like, wow, that could be us, and they use that as impactful, then you may find yourself with free room and board at a federal prison.

Interviewer: Paul, thanks so much for breaking this down.

Paul: You’re welcome.

Interviewer: Of course, if you have more questions or you’d like more information on what your rights are, visit our website cbs6albany.com.