Tax deadline just hours away; What you need to know now

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 8:24 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 17 at 9:01 AM

Map: Tax drop-off at Phoenix Municipal Stadium

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PHOENIX -- If you've waited to the very last minute to file your taxes, you're not alone. The clock is ticking -- you have until midnight to file either your returns or an extension.

Yetta Gibson spent the morning at the post office with IRS spokesman Bill Brunson, who offered some tips for you last-minute filers.

While many people might be panicking at this point, Brunson said there's no need.

"Take a breath," he advised.

If you have your paperwork finished, you have plenty of time to get to the post office or to file online, which is what Brunson recommends.

"People still have time to get that return in in a timely manner," Brunson said.

If you still have some work to do and numbers to crunch, Brunson suggests you file an extension. All you need is Form 4868, which is available on IRS.gov. You also can click on the Free File icon on IRS.gov and film the form electronically. It only takes about a minute to file for an extension, but that minute can save you a lot of trouble later.

Filing an extension gives you six more months to pull everything together and file. Taking that extra time can help you avoid some of the most common errors.

  • Bad math
  • Filing status mistakes
  • Looking at the wrong column in the tax table
  • Missing, incorrect forms
  • Forgetting an SSN
  • Forgetting to sign forms, schedules

"Little mistakes like that can cause a delay in your return," Brunson said. "The way to get around all those common errors is to electronically file your tax returns. All Arizonans can go to IRS.gov and click on that Free File icon and submit their return on or before midnight tonight for a timely filed return, no matter how complex the return, no matter how much income they have."

If you need more time to finish your return, filing an extension is all well and good if you're expecting a refund, but what if you owe? The extension is not to pay your taxes, it's just to file the paperwork. Despite that, it's still worth doing.

"If you owe Uncle Sam money, go ahead and request the extension and what you'll do is you'll avoid the late-filing penalty of 5 percent," Brunson said.

Once you determine if you owe or if you're due a refund, the final step to filing your taxes to determine where you need to send your forms if you're mailing hard copies. There are different addresses.

"If you have a balance due, you're going to send it in to San Francisco," Brunson said. "If you have a refund coming, you're going to send it in to Fresno. ... But if you electronically file, you're going to transmit it directly to the Internal Revenue Service. Within 48 hours after transmission, we'll let you know that we've received it and are processing it. Electronically filing is the way to go."

To assist last-minute tax filers who are mailing returns or payments, the Phoenix Post Office will offer a satellite drive-through drop-off location from 5 p.m. until midnight at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium parking lot at 56th Street and East Van Buren Street.

The Phoenix Muni drop-off will be accessible from East Van Buren Street or East Washington Street at 56th Street. Customers driving westbound on Loop 202 should exit at the Van Buren/52nd Street off-ramp and turn east on Van Buren. Drivers headed east on 202 or north on Hwy. 143 should use the Washington Street exit and continue east on Washington to 56th Street. Customers are urged to follow the signs posted near the drop-off location

Drive-through customers must have the correct postage affixed to their returns. First-Class postage is 45 cents for the first ounce and 20 cents for each additional ounce. Stamps will be available for purchase at the Phoenix Municipal Stadium parking lot.

The Phoenix Main Post Office at  4949 E. Van Buren St. will be open until 9:30 p.m.

Customers using one of the Postal Service's blue collection boxes to mail returns earlier are urged to double check the label on the box to ensure they deposit their envelopes prior to the last posted collection time.

The Phoenix Post Office also wants to remind people that IRS forms are not available at postal locations. If you need forms, you can find them online at IRS.gov.

For more information, to download forms or to file your taxes electronically for free, visit IRS.gov.

 

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