Last-minute tax filer? How to get your return in on time

Tips for filing taxes during coronavirus

CPA and business analyst Dan Geltrude helps navigate filing federal and state taxes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Many Americans took advantage of the three extra months to prepare their tax returns this year, but now that the deadline has arrived, what should you do if you are running out of time?

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Oftentimes people run up against the deadline if they do not have the money to pay.But penalties and interest begin accruing immediately, so here are some steps you can take now to make sure your return is on time.

Mail your return by the deadline

If you plan to mail your return, the IRS considers it on time so long as it is postmarked by the filing date deadline.

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The United States Postal Service recommends mailing the document at a blue collection box or a postal location that has a pick-up time before the deadline. Some locations offer extended hours and late postmarking for tax filers, but you should call ahead just in case.

E-file

Filing online is another way taxpayers can make sure their returns are received by the IRS on time.

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Don’t forget about Free File options, which are available free of charge to individuals with incomes of $69,000 or less.

Most companies also provide a special offer for active-duty military personnel.

File for an extension

If you need more time, you can get an automatic three-month extension if you fill out Form 4868 by the July 15 deadline.

Payers can also get an automatic extension when they pay all or part of their taxes electronically by July 15 and indicate that the payment is for an extension using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, or a credit or debit card. This way you won’t be required to file a separate extension form.

By filing for an extension, a taxpayer will have an additional three months to prepare and file his or her paperwork – until Oct. 15.

Pay what you can

Even filing for an extension, however, does not get you off the hook for your tax liabilities.

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If you cannot afford to pay what you owe, experts say to pay what you can. The IRS may be receptive to your circumstances if you have suffered financial hardship and are willing to work on a repayment plan.

Here are some tips if you cannot afford your tax obligations.

Ask for Help

If you are unsure of what to do or how to handle your financial situation, consult or request help from a qualified professional.

The IRS also has resources available on its website.

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