Tax Deadline Time: Advice for Last-Minute Filers Americans get three extra days this year beyond the typical April 15 deadline to file their income tax returns. But those who have put off preparing their returns until the last minute may still find that they'll need to file an extension to avoid penalties if they can't get their returns in the mail by midnight Monday.

With just days to go before taxes are due, last-minute filers need to be prepared and focused to ensure their tax returns are accurate and contain all the necessary information, advises Jackson Hewitt Tax Service (JTX), which is extending its business hours nationwide to deal with the crush of last-minute questions.

"We know as the deadline approaches, many taxpayers will feel overwhelmed and won't know where to begin," says Mark Steber, Jackson Hewitt's chief tax officer. The company's staff is ready to deal with all the questions that last-minute filers so often ask, including how to determine whether they need to file an extension, and how to file one if they do.

An experienced tax preparer can be key in helping you determine whether you owe taxes, and whether or not you need to file for a six-month extension, which gives you until Oct. 17 to file your return. It's important to note, though, that filing for an extension doesn't mean taxpayers can put off paying taxes, says William P. Miller, a certified public accountant based in suburban Minneapolis.

"A late filer must estimate both state and federal taxes owed and pay them by the return due date," he says. Taxpayers will be charged interest as well as a late-filing penalty on any remaining balance that's not paid by the April 18 deadline.

For taxpayers who find themselves making a last-minute dash to an accountant or tax preparer, Jackson Hewitt offers this partial checklist of documents necessary to compile a complete return:
  • Wage Statements (Form W-2)
  • Form 1099
  • All other income amounts
  • Unemployment compensation received (Form W-2G)
  • Social Security Card(s)
  • Driver's License(s)
  • Dependents' social security numbers and dates of birth
  • Last year's federal and state tax returns; last year's state refund amount (if applicable)
  • Mortgage interest paid and real estate taxes (Form 1098)
  • Total of all cash and non-cash charitable contributions
  • Any records to support your deductions
  • Form HUD-1 or its equivalent if filing for a First-Time Homeowner Credit



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