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How and WHY to File Your Taxes on the Last Day:
Six Last-Minute Tax Day Tips



The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is expecting over 141 million 2008 tax returns to be filed this year, and as of April 10 about two-thirds of them had already been received. That means one-third of taxpayers still needed to get their taxes done and in by today, April 15.

If you STILL have not filed your taxes, don’t panic.

You have until midnight tonight to get yours in, and it’s important that you do since not filing your return is a criminal act and one that you can go to jail for. So always file your tax return, even if you can’t send a payment along with it. You’ll be charged a penalty either way, but those for filing late are much steeper than those for paying late.

The video above has some commonsense tips on how to make sure your taxes are filed on time, even at the last minute, and here are six others:

1. Find out quickly if you should itemize deductions. It’s easier to simply take the standard deduction, but you don’t want to miss out on any savings you have coming. To find out if you’re better of taking the standard deduction or itemizing, add up your:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • State and local tax withheld (listed on your W-2)
  • If your state has no income tax, substitute your sales tax deduction (you can find it at

If your total is more than the standard deduction, you’re better of itemizing.

2. Remember your real estate tax deduction. If you own a home and pay real estate taxes, you get to add a $1,000 standard deduction this year.

3. If your income declined in 2008, double check for tax credits. The following credits are based on income, so even if you didn’t qualify for them in the past, you might now:

  • Earned income credit (EIC). About 25% of people who qualify don’t take this deduction, so to find out if you qualify for the EIC, watch this very informative vide
  • Child care credit. If you pay someone for childcare so you can work, you may qualify. For five things you should know about the child care tax credit, see the following video:
  • Hope and Lifetime Learning education credit

4. Be smart about charitable contributes. You must have the paperwork to back up your donations, no matter how small. To find out what you need to know to take a tax deduction for donations, watch:

5. File online. It’s faster and you can file online for free, no matter what your income, at If your 2008 adjusted gross income is less than $56,000, you can also qualify for free software that gives you step-by-step help.

For some great tips on how to file your taxes online, take a couple of minutes to watch this video:

6. If you can’t file by today, file for an extension. Everyone is eligible for an extension, which gives you six more months to file your return (by October 15). However, your request for an extension must be filed by April 15, and though it gives you more time for paperwork, your payment is still due. If you suspect you owe money for your taxes, pay as much of the amount as you can now to keep penalties and interest charges to a minimum.

Either way, make sure you either file your return or file an extension by midnight tonight, April 15 -- even if you can’t afford to pay. The fines you’ll be charged for not filing at all are WORSE than the fines for filing and just paying late. So get to your computer or tax professional ASAP, and remember to call the post office to find out how late they’re open. Your return must be postmarked by midnight tonight … but not all post offices will be open that late.

Recommended Reading

What to Do if You Can’t Pay Your Taxes

The Most and Least Tax-Friendly Places to Live in the USA


ABC News April 10, 2009 April 9, 2009

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