This year, tax returns are due a couple days later than usual, giving procrastinators a little more time to get their paperwork together. During this 2012 filing season, tax forms are due to the IRS by Tuesday, April 17. Mailed returns must have a postmark date of April 17 or earlier, which means it's okay to send them on Tuesday, even if they arrive a day or two later. But most returns will be sent electronically, and if you file that way, your information will be received by the IRS instantly.
The IRS offers an e-file option on its homepage. Federal taxes, and in some cases even state taxes, can be completed for free if your 2011 income was $57,000 or less. Otherwise, you may have to pay a fee to use the e-file service, which can range from around $10 to almost $100 depending on your circumstances.
Those who prefer to send physical forms can find the correct address to use on the 'Where To File' section on the IRS website.
If you end up owing taxes, you can pay electronically. Otherwise you may send a check, money order or cashier's check. In that case, make it payable to the United States Treasury and be sure to include your tax ID number.
If you need more time to finish your paperwork, you can file for an extension. This will give you more time to tally everything up, no questions asked, but be aware that it will not give you more time to pay. Even if you owe money that you can't afford to remit, the IRS recommends you file on time anyway and pay as much as you can in order to avoid unnecessary penalties.
If you are expecting a tax return, you can figure out your refund status using the tracking service on the IRS website. Your best bet for a fast delivery is to e-file and enter bank information for a direct deposit. In that case, the refund should take less than three weeks.
Most importantly, don't let the fast-approaching deadline trip you up. Thoroughness is key; making mistakes on your taxes can be costly, and resulting complications may prove time-consuming down the road. Take time to double-check your calculations, triple-check your SSN or Tax ID numbers, and be sure you -- and your spouse, if you're filing jointly -- sign those forms!