"Nationwide, the number of taxpayers who requested an automatic six-month extension topped 11 million, and over a million of those were from Texas," said Clay Sanford, a Dallas-based IRS spokesman. "Though Oct. 15 is the last day for most people, some still have more time, including members of the military and others serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities who typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due."
Before filing, the IRS encourages taxpayers to take a moment to see if they qualify for often-overlooked credits and deductions. There are benefits for low-and moderate-come workers and families--like the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Savers Credit, claimed on IRS Form 8880, is for low-and moderate-income workers who contributed to a retirement plan, such as an IRA or 401(k), and the American Opportunity Tax Credit is for education tax benefits for parents and college students.
"Choose the speed and convenience of electronic filing," Sanford added. "IRS e-file is fast, accurate and secure--making it an ideal option for those rushing to meet the Oct. 15 deadline." What's more, the IRS verifies receipt of an e-filed return, and people who file electronically make fewer mistakes.
Everyone can use Free File, either the brand-name software, offered by IRS’ commercial partners to individuals and families with incomes of $57,000 or less, or online fillable forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms available to taxpayers at all income levels. Taxpayers who purchase their own software can also choose e-file, and most paid tax preparers are now required to file their clients’ returns electronically. "Where speed counts, anyone expecting a refund can get it sooner by choosing e-file together with direct deposit," Sanford stressed.
For unemployed workers who filed Form 1127-A and qualified to get an extension to pay their 2011 federal income tax, Oct. 15 is also the last day to pay what they owe, including interest at the rate of 3 percent per year, compounded daily. Doing so will avoid the late-payment penalty, normally 0.5 percent per month.
In many cases, those struggling to pay taxes qualify for one of several relief programs, including those expanded earlier this year under the IRS "Fresh Start" initiative. Details on all filing and payment options are available on www.irs.gov.