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Filing extension an option as tax deadline looms

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The deadline to file taxes is approaching quickly. (April 13, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 This Morning at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, April 13, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Five more days until the dreaded deadline for filing your taxes. This is the last full week to mail in your tax return, but some people are just starting the process. If you feel you need more time, you can always file a six month extension with the IRS using the 4868 form.

As the calendar inches closer to April 18th, tax preparers crunching the numbers are working at full speed to mail in returns. "I see people get into a mess this time of the year," said Bill Cleveland, a personal financial adviser. His recommendation for tax payers cutting it too close is to think about filing an extension, allowing them to file in October.

"It's better to file an extension if you're close to getting it done and file a week from now, then to rush through it making a mistake," said Cleveland. Even if you opt for an automatic 6-month extension, you are required to pay 90% of what you owe.

"The big thing to remember is the extension is only an extension to file, not an extension to pay," explained Stephen Harvey, district manager of H&R Block. If you can't pay up at once you can opt to pay in installments, but those come with hefty fees.

"If you don't have the cash in the bank or lines of credit, which there aren't that many of as there were three or four years ago, you can turn to credit cards. Some people are having to tap into credit cards," said Cleveland.

The IRS will charge you a $105 processing fee. Each late payment will have the current interest rate tacked on, which is at 3% this quarter and another late penalty percentage fee of a .5%.

Cleveland says, "Obviously the more you can pay up front, the better."
"A lot of people think they need to file for the extension when they really don't," Harvey added.

So whether you're filing online, at a place like H&R Block or through a personal adviser, ask them first before making that decision.
You must file your extension by April 18th as well. Right-click here to download the 4868 Extension Form.

The US postal service will have regular lobby hours during this last week of tax season, since more tax payers are choosing to file online. The post office will be open from 8am-6pm on April 18th. You will be able to drop off your return at the drop off boxes until midnight on April 18th at the main post office location in downtown Augusta at 525 8th Street. Other drop off boxes in other areas will have times listed on the box at your post office, so check for those times if you are cutting it close.

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