Americans get extra time to file taxes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When April 15th falls on Sunday, the government gives us more time to file tax returns. And with April 16th being a holiday in Washington, D.C., Internal revenue service set April 17th as this year's filing deadline for most individuals.

No matter when the deadline falls, about a third of Americans wait till the last minute, especially those who figure they owe money. Even at the last minute, experts agree you'll have an easier experience if you go online and file electronically.

Some people choose software you can download and use. Others just go to the Internal Revenue service website , where you'll find every federal form and instruction imaginable.

All these web resources also give you the tools to file your return electronically, as eight out of ten Americans now do. That's up about 14% from last year.

Internal revenue Service spokesman Bill Cressman told Action News any of these resources makes it less likely that you'll make a mistake.

There's no chance your return gets lost. And you won't spend time travelling to a post office, which means you have those extra minutes to work on the return itself.

E-filing gets you a refund faster, even at this late date. Fastest of all is to request that your refund is direct-deposited.

You may even have it sent to an account other than your own and I.R.S. will do that. But most last-minute filers are likely to owe money, and you'll be considered "late" if you're not paid up by midnight.

If you can't pay, or can't pay in full, experts agree you should file your return anyway, so you at least avoid the penalty for failure to file on time.

There are forms available that let you pay by credit card. And I.R.S. often lets taxpayers work out an agreement to pay off a liability over time.

There are interest charges and sometimes penalties as well. But you should talk to I.R.S. sooner rather than later if you think you won't be able to pay on time.

If you were unemployed part of last year or are without a job now, I.R.S. may agree to waive certain penalties for late payment, but you need to ask.

For the most part, this year's return will look like last year's. There are fewer special tax credits available this time around. But credits for energy-saving home improvements and for some job-related college courses remain available.

If you have a last minute tax question, the I.R.S. website is likely to have the answer. You may also phone their nationwide hotline, 1-800-TAX-1040.

With the growing trend toward filing returns online, note that fewer post offices stay open until midnight each year. But Philadelphia's main post office at 30th Street never closes and you can get a postmark there right up to the last minute. States also have websites with forms, e-filing, and tax information.

In Pennsylvania, In New Jersey, and in Delaware.

Like the federal government, Pennsylvania and new Jersey have extended the filing deadline to April 17 for your 2011 return. Delaware's state filing deadline is always April 30th, and it remains so this year.

States also require you to pay what you owe by the filing deadline or risk penalties and interest charges. But, like the federal government, there are automatic extensions of time to file a final return if you can't get the information together by the deadline. These forms vary by state, but they are available on the individual state websites and, like your return, may be e-filed.

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