Not So Fast! 5 Things You Must Do After Filing Taxes

By Sarah Winfrey on 2 April 2015 0 comments

Tax filing can be stressful, fraught with too many numbers and documents — but when you're finally done, it feels like such a relief. Whether you file online or mail in your return all old school, getting done usually feels like a huge weight off your shoulders.

But wait! Before you relax too much, chuck all your papers into the trash, and move on with your life, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here's what to do after you file your taxes.

1. Keep Your Records

At the very least, keep your records easily accessible and on-hand until you receive your tax refund or until you get notice that your payment has been processed (be sure to verify this with your bank!). That way, you have everything in front of you in case you need to file again (or chase down answers about what happened with your taxes).

Otherwise, you should keep copies of your old tax returns indefinitely. It used to be common practice to get rid of these after seven to 10 years. Now that you can store them electronically, though, there's no reason not to keep them longer. Remember that the IRS can audit you for years afterward, so it's important to be prepared.

As for other tax-related paperwork, how long you keep your documentation depends on your particular tax situation. Find your particular situation on this tax checklist and store your documents accordingly.

2. Check the Status of Your Filing

If you file electronically, you can check the status of your taxes as soon as 24 hours after you file (if you mail in your return, it will take up to four weeks for your data to show up in the system). Use the IRS's simple online form, or download their IRS2Go app to check. You'll need your social security number, your filing status, and the exact amount of your refund to login.

Checking on your filing won't just aide your peace of mind, but it'll also help you avoid any potential problems before they arise. If your return doesn't show up in the system, for example, you can handle that before your filing is considered late. If you have any doubts, get in touch with your local IRS office.

3. Make Your Payments

If you owe taxes, make sure that you've paid them, and not just filed your return. Most of the time, you can pay when you e-file, or send a check when you mail in your return. If you don't do either of those, though, you can pay through the IRS payments site. Send an electronic check directly from your account, or use a credit or debit card. Pay by check or money order with their instructions.

The most important thing is that you pay whatever you owe. It isn't only essential that you file your return, but that the government gets any money that is theirs by the April 15 deadline.

4. ...Or File for a Payment Plan

If you discover that you owe more money than you expected, or if you just don't have the cash on hand, you can request a payment plan. There's an online payment agreement application, and as long as you meet their requirements, they're fairly easy to get.

It goes without saying that if you have a payment plan, you need to stick to it. Failing to pay owed money to the IRS comes with consequences.

5. If You're Struggling, File an Extension

Technically, this isn't something you do after you file your taxes. But if you're really having difficulty finishing your taxes in a timely fashion, file an extension. These are granted automatically, as long as you fill out your paperwork properly.

A tax extension will give you an extra six months to file your taxes, so your return will be due October 15 instead of April 15. Make sure you file it before the original due date and that you figure out whatever you need before your final deadline.

If you've got all these ducks in a row, take a break. Relax. Breathe. Do something fun. You definitely deserve it.

What do you do after you file your taxes? And how will you celebrate being done with them?

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