A word of advice on Tax Day: File your income tax returns on time – even if you owe.
“If residents don’t do so before Tuesday, they can face steep penalties from the federal government,” said Al Shalash, district manager of Liberty Tax Service, an income tax preparation firm in Joliet.
“Just by filing on time, you cut your penalties in half,” he said. “You can deal with ‘How do I pay them?’ later. Just get it filed.”
The penalties for not filing or paying owed taxes on time include an additional 5 percent charge per month for the payment that the person failed to deliver on time. The maximum penalty is capped at 25 percent, but there’s also accrued interest, Shalash said.
Individuals who need additional time should request an extension by mailing the correct form in by Tuesday. As long as the form is filled out correctly and is postmarked by April 15, an extension will be granted until Oct. 15.
If you’ve waited until the last minute to file your income tax returns, don’t count on your local post office to stay open past regular business hours Tuesday to make the midnight deadline. Morris’s post office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tax returns mailed at U.S. Postal Service locations must arrive by the closing time and before mail is collected, said Beverly Howard, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. Any tax returns placed there past the collection times will be considered late by the IRS.
Howard said the post office no longer extends its business hours because of the growing number of people who opt to file electronically.
Shalash said filing electronically is not only an easier alternative, it’s required by the IRS unless the person has a “really good reason” to file the old-fashioned way.
“Sometimes, if your initial return gets rejected or say, hypothetically, someone had stolen your identity or there’s wrong information on the form, obviously the only alternative is to mail in the correct information,” Shalash said. “That’s really the one good reason to file that way.”