As the April 17 income tax filing deadline approaches, the IRS hopes a new program will benefit those who may have been hit by the bad economy.
“The IRS is very much aware that a lot of folks were unemployed last year, maybe got laid off part way through the year,” IRS representative Dan Boone told Nashville's News 2.
The IRS has implemented the ‘Fresh Start' program to help those who may have difficulty paying their taxes.
“For unemployed people and for certain self employed people, we are offering a grace period for paying the amount that you may owe to the IRS,” explained Boone.
To qualify, unemployment must have lasted for at least a 30-day period between January 1, 2011 and April 17, 2012.
Self-employed people whose business income declined 25% or more in 2011 also qualify.
The deadline to apply for the six-month grace period is April 17.
“You will not be charged any penalty until October 15. It gives you a little breather in there,” Boone continued.
There are other options for those who are not eligible for the Fresh Start program but owe the IRS money.
“There's also the installment agreement program. If you owe the IRS, you can get on payment plans, you don't have to pay them everything you owe,” H&R Block Manager Rick Cannone told Nashville's News 2.
With the deadline closing in, both the IRS and tax preparers agree that it is important for filers to submit their taxes returns by April 17 or a tax extension form at the very least.
“If you don't file either an extension or a tax return, you could get hit with a late filing penalty and that actually is the biggest penalty of all,” Boone said.
While the IRS recommends e-filing tax returns online, every Middle Tennessee H&R Block location is prepared to help any last minute tax filers.
For more information visit IRS.gov.