It’s Tax Day: Do you know where your tax return is?

April 18, 2011

kelly erb— Kelly Phillips Erb is a small business owner and practicing tax attorney at the Erb Law Firm in Philadelphia. She is also the author of the popular Tax Girl blog. The views expressed are her own. —

Chances are, you’ve already filed, as only a third of all tax returns are filed during the last week of tax season. But if you haven’t, keep these tips in mind:

– Postage rates for large envelopes went up yesterday (yes, yesterday). If you’re mailing your return – and it’s a big one – make sure to allow extra time at the post office.

– A number of post offices will be open to accommodate last-minute filers. You can find a list of those offices open past 6 p.m. EDT here (downloads as a pdf). You can also find a post office by location on the USPS website.

– You can also use a private delivery service to file your tax return or extension. The IRS considers the following private delivery services as acceptable to meet the timely filed rule: DHL Express (DHL): DHL Same Day; Federal Express (FedEx): FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx 2Day, FedEx International Priority, and FedEx International First; United Parcel Service (UPS): UPS Next Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS 2nd Day Air A.M., UPS Worldwide Express Plus, and UPS Worldwide Express.

– You may also e-file your return in order to file on time.

– If you need to file for an automatic extension, use federal form 4868 with the IRS. You can download the form and mail it in by the deadline or file electronically using your tax software.

– If you make the request on time, you are entitled to an automatic 6-month extension. That moves the due date forward to October 17, 2011.

– If you want to have your extension filed for you, ask your tax pro or consider using a service like FileLater.

– Remember that an extension only extends the time to file and not the time to pay. If you think you’ll owe this year, make a payment with your extension in order to avoid penalties and interest.

– If you’re a U.S. citizen or resident and you live outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico and your main place of business or post of duty is outside of the U.S. or Puerto Rico, you qualify for a 2-month extension without having to file the form 4868.

– Similarly, if you are active duty military and live outside of the U.S., you qualify for a 2 month extension without having to file form 4868.

And sigh. Take a deep breath. The day is almost over.

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