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The Ides of March

March 13, 2012

March 15 is an auspicious date for calendar year corporations – it is the due date of their tax returns.  It also was a significant date in the life of Julius Caesar.  It was the date he was assassinated that was made famous or memorable by Shakespeare’s opening words in his play.  Is there a connection between the two?


Does it matter?  Probably not, but dates seem to mark significant events in our lives.  Round number anniversaries get us thinking about the passage of time. Kids’ weddings and grandchildren’s birthdays also mark the passage of time.  And tax return due dates create relief for those that filed and prolong the past for those with extensions.


This year individual tax returns are due April 17.  The 15th is on a Sunday, the 16th is a legal holiday in D.C. so the 17th it is.  Question: Should we stretch out the tax season and delay filing to the last minute or do we ignore the two extra days and file by the 13th (Opps! – Friday the thirteenth!) or Saturday the 14th when some post offices can provide a timely postmark?


I used to think it was easier for our workflow to file extensions and stretch out the work over a longer period.  What happened were a number of unintended consequences.  The work wasn’t seriously touched until we got close to the final deadline.  Clients delayed sending info and while summer work is not that voluminous, most in our firm took their vacations then (shrinking the pool of ready and able tax preparers.) Also, our tax season mindset, staffing overtime setup and firm wide system disappeared the day after tax season ended when we were closed to chill out.  The mindset miraculously reappeared a few weeks before the due date (sans overtime creating a mini-tax season rush.)  That stunk!  Further, occasionally incomplete amounts used for extension payments caused penalties for underpayments.  Also, current year planning is seriously thwarted when you still have to work on last year’s numbers.


Some clients have complex returns requiring data from a hundred or more sources with many sending it late leaving no choice other than to extend.  However, most people don’t have these issues and there is no reason to extend except to delay the inevitable filing.  Whatever work needs to get done to get the data together, will get done – either now or later!  Now is preferable.  Don’t extend unless circumstances out of your control prohibit you from filing on time.

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