NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Tax day is Monday, April 18. Are you ready? If you’re like most Americans, probably not.
As MainStreet recently reported, nearly half of all Americans (41%) waited until the final four weeks of the tax season last year to file their 2009 returns, with 27% opting to file in the final two weeks before April 15, according to data from TurboTax. This year, the number of Americans waiting until the homestretch to file could likely be even higher.
Despite the new deadline (thanks to April 15 coinciding with a District of Columbia holiday), the three-day reprieve from the Internal Revenue Service might not have been long enough for some taxpayers to prepare their returns. So MainStreet gathered some last-minute filing tips from the IRS (see above) and two 1040 experts to help you get your tax house in order as the deadline draws near.
Kelly Erb, a tax attorney who blogs at TaxGirl.com, and Bob Meighan, vice president of TurboTax, share their tax procrastinator tips, from claiming last-minute deductions to filing extensions and dealing with headaches like when the post office loses your package. Plus, they offer insight on the perils of penalties for late filing and how to avoid them altogether.
If do decide to drop your return in the mail the day before D-day, make sure you have the right amount of sticker postage, says Erb, because the rate is about to go up.
“Tax day is the 18th, not the 15th, and ironically the postage increase goes into effect April 17,” she notes.
Erb offers additional pointers for making the most of your trip to the post office at tax time:
- Go to the USPS website and check the hours. “You don’t want to get something postmarked at midnight when the last pickup is at five o’clock,” she says. All locations will be open until 6 p.m. on April 18, but some might have extended hours.
- Don’t go during lunch or after work. “Try to go at an odd hour” to beat the crowds.
- Be patient. “If you end up there with everybody else, go with the flow” and accept that it’s going to be busy, Erb says. And with that point in mind …
- Have fun. Yes, it’s possible to smile at the post office, even on tax day. “I actually have clients who kind of get a rush from being caught up in it,” Erb says. Oftentimes, there’s a radio or TV station “giving out free sodas or something to keep everybody in a good mood. The IRS doesn’t want everybody in a bad mood,” contrary to public opinion.