Filing Last Minute: You Can Still Get Your Taxes in Without Running to the Post Office

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Taxpayers who would normally be scrambling to get their returns finished by Tax Day have a bit more breathing room again this year. Although the deadline has not been extended, it is three days later than usual — on April 18 instead of April 15. April 15 falls on a Saturday, and the next weekday falls on Emancipation Day, April 17.

If you don’t meet the tax deadline without securing an extension, you should expect no mercy from the IRS — fines, penalties, interest and scary letters should be expected following a missed deadline. If you have yet to file your tax return, here’s what you need to know.

Your Local Post Office Might Be Open Late — If You Need It

There was a time when rushing to the post office late at night on Tax Day for a hand-stamped postmark that proved you beat the clock was an annual American ritual. Now, the era of people scrambling to snail-mail their taxes at the 11th hour is largely in the past. 

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The Internet is starting to catch on. 

Some post offices still extend their hours on Tax Day, but many others do not. In the cases that they do, it’s unlikely to be midnight, as was standard in the bad old days of stamp licking. 

If you live in an outpost without reliable broadband Internet or don’t trust something you didn’t fold and put in an envelope, consider the following tips. They could save you a bunch of headaches when you drive to the post office to mail your taxes.

  • Pay attention to collection hours. Collection hours aren’t always the same as closing hours and could affect your tax-filing postmark deadline. Just because a post office is open late doesn’t mean it’s still collecting mail for that day.
  • Know your post office’s last collection time. A post office’s last collection is the time at which the mail is taken for the last period that day — and when it’s actually postmarked. For example, if your post office is open until 9 p.m. on Tax Day but the last collection time is 7 p.m., you’ll need to get to the post office to mail your taxes before 7 p.m. to meet the April 18 tax postmark deadline. Otherwise, your taxes will be mailed out on April 19.
  • Watch out for common tax-filing mistakes. Errors might range from using the wrong amount of postage or writing the wrong address to not including all necessary forms. If you’re still worried about making the deadline, you can still file for a tax extension. It’s fairly simple, and most filers qualify for a tax extension.
  • Most taxpayers will have to file returns with their states as well. You can find this information by checking with your state tax agency to confirm the deadline.
  • You can call USPS directly. Reach it at 800-ASK-USPS (800-275-8777) for detailed information about post office extended hours on Tax Day, collection boxes and mail pickups in your area.
  • You can call the IRS directly. Reach it at 800-829-1040 if you have any questions on how to file your tax return, or about your tax refund.

Or, consider filing online. It’s easier, more secure, gets you your refund more quickly, and the IRS prefers it. It prefers it so much, in fact, that you can file right through the IRS website. You can even do it for free, and depending on your income, you can do it for free with a full-service experience that you would pay for elsewhere. 

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Submit Your Returns at No Cost With Free File

The IRS’ Free File service does just what the name implies — lets you file your taxes for free, depending on your adjusted gross income. There are two options:

  • $73,000 or less: You can file federal taxes for free on a third-party IRS partner site. You can even file your state taxes for free with some partners. Nothing to fear — you don’t even have to do the math. You’ll receive guided preparation that will ask you questions and walk you through it, just like on a pay site.
  • Above $73,000: You can still file for free, but only your federal returns and the service is pretty bare-bones. It offers only the most basic guidance and calculations, and you’ll have to know how to prepare tax forms. Plus, math. 

You’ll need all the same stuff that’s required no matter how you file, like health insurance and mortgage statements, last year’s AGI, your W2s, 1099s, Social Security benefits and proof of any other income, including unemployment payments. Remember, file on time even if you can’t pay your bill. You can request an extension by Tax Day if you need more time to file, but remember that this is just a grace period. You won’t pay any less. Paying your taxes is never fun — but in 2023, it shouldn’t require a trip to the post office. 

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