File tax return today or pay

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Happy ultimate tax day, procrastinators!

If you got an extension to finish up your 2012 return earlier this year, today — Oct. 15 — is it. You must finally file your taxes.

Of course, I’m sure you paid any due tax, or as much of it as you could, when you asked the Internal Revenue Service for six more months to finish up your paperwork. But if in filling out the forms and schedules you discover you do owe something more, file your Form 1040 today or Uncle Sam will start the penalty and interest clock.

So get to work!

There are two key things to worry about when you’re finishing up a tax return at the very last minute.

First, you don’t want to get in such a hurry that you make a common tax mistake that could cost you.

Second, you don’t want to overlook any tax breaks that could save you money.

Filing options

Remember, if you’re mailing a paper form, the IRS will consider it filed on time as long as the envelope is postmarked by the deadline day.

And if you are e-filing, you just need to get the electronic form in by midnight in your time zone.

Speaking of e-filing, although most of the IRS is closed because of the federal government shutdown, its Free File website still is operational. You can use it as long as your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less. That income threshold applies to all taxpayers regardless of filing status.

And if in filling out your tax return you find that you still owe more taxes than you’re able to pay, send in what you can. Some people don’t file because they owe, and that’s a bad mistake. The penalties for not filing are tougher than for not paying.

Then look into the IRS’ installment payment plans.

Have fun, you tax-filing delayers. Once today is over, you can start focusing on this year’s taxes!

Want the latest news on taxes, tax reform prospects, filing deadlines, political fights, Internal Revenue Service alerts and tax-saving tips? Subscribe to Bankrate’s free Weekly Tax Tip newsletter.

You also can follow me on Twitter: @taxtweet.

Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book “The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes” and a co-author of the e-book “Future Millionaires’ Guidebook.”