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Tax Day: Procrastination ends today

April 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Tax Day has arrived and the procrastinators who have yet to file their taxes will have until midnight tonight to submit them. The rush however can lead to many easily avoidable mistakes so be sure to double check your work before e-filing or mailing your taxes off. Last-minute filers showed up at the H&R Block in Hollywood during the early morning hours Thursday where it was open 24 hours. H&R Block says they see the same rush come through every year at the last minute.

"I just retired in April and I figured that I better get them in today but honestly, I just got the money," said Harrison Kohl.

If you owe money this year like Harrison Kohl, you're likely to be one of the 10 million Americans who put off filing to the last minute.

One of the biggest problems that H&R Block says about Tax Day is that people are rushing through their information and returns as they get them done, which leads to many mistakes. They say two out of three clients come in with mistakes so you want to double check your work before e-filing or mailing it off.

"People at the last minute tend to make silly mistakes so some of the things to look out for is making sure you're claiming the correct filing status, making sure your dependents, that you're actually eligible to claim those dependents, remembering to sign your tax returns is one of those things people forget to do when they're in a rush, and then overlooking deductions and credits that you're actually eligible to claim," said Eileen Brown, H&R Block.

Experts say even if you don't have your paperwork together, the worst thing you can do right now is ignore the deadline completely.

"Filing your tax return and getting it into the IRS by midnight, you can avoid the stiffest penalty which is the late filing penalty," explained Brown.

Nearly half of all Americans will not owe federal income taxes. As for next year, accountants say it never hurts to start planning.

"Being aware and talking to a professional makes a difference. Being aware of what deductions and credits are new and what you're looking at for the coming year, you're getting some tax advice. And then as the year goes, if you're really organized, organization makes a difference," said Brown.

If you are mailing your tax return on the last day, there are post offices that will have extended hours and some that are opening until midnight. There's one last thing to worry about.

"If you have more than three sheets and you only put 44 cents on that stamp, it's going to be returned to you because anything over three sheets is usually one more ounce so you need 17 cents more per postage," said Chris Valle, U.S. Postal Service. "The biggest mistake we experienced last year was that they put less postage than necessary and their items go back to them."


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