America's annual tax reckoning is here once again and for many who have yet to file their federal tax return, that means a mad dash to beat Uncle Sam's deadline.
The Internal Revenue Service already has received nearly 100 million tax returns, but anticipates getting about 35 million more by the midnight Tuesday deadline.
Many other taxpayers, however, are opting for plan B and asking for more time to file.
The IRS expects roughly 12 million taxpayers will make such a request before the tax filing deadline, enabling them to take an additional six months — until Oct. 15 — to prepare their tax return.
Getting started late and rushing to file can lead to headaches, particularly if you haven't organized the various receipts and forms, such as bank statements or W-2 forms that you may need to complete your return.
"When you sit down to do your return at the last minute, if you're realizing you're stuck, don't know what's happening or have an unexpected result and need more help, the best thing to do would be to file for an extension," said Lindsey Buchholz, a principal analyst at H&R Block.
MORE TIME TO FILE, NOT PAY
If it looks like you're not going to make the deadline, and you owe unpaid taxes, it pays to ask for more time. That's because if you miss the deadline and fail to ask for an extension, the IRS will hit you with a monthly penalty of 5 percent of your unpaid tax balance. The quickest way to request an extension is to fill out the automatic extension of time to file - Form 4868 on www.irs.gov . It's also available through most tax preparation software.
Extension requests via mail must be postmarked by Tuesday to be considered on time. Forms filed on the IRS website or by using tax software can be sent in as late as 11:59 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.