It’s the last day to file your 2018 taxes before getting into hot water with the Internal Revenue Service.
If you don’t file your federal tax returns on time, you could be charged a late-filing penalty. And if you owe and don’t pay Uncle Sam on time, you could rack up interest and fees on top of your tax bill.
By last count, the IRS has received about two-thirds of the expected 150 million individual returns as of April 6. That means a third of Americans are hustling this Monday to get those returns in by midnight.
If you’re one of those procrastinators, here are five things you need to know before sending in that 1040 to the IRS.
How to mail your return on time
A paper federal return is considered on time by the IRS if it’s addressed correctly, has enough postage and is postmarked by April 15, according to the U.S. Postal Service. The IRS address you use depends on which state you’re filing from and whether you’re enclosing a payment. So double check the agency’s website to make sure you have the right one.
Weigh your return to get the correct postage. Most weigh more than on e ounce — the limit for a regular stamp. If you don’t have correct postage, your tax returns will be sent back to you.
Make sure your return address is clearly written or printed on the envelope. Drop your return into a USPS blue collection box at a post office that has a pick-up time before the deadline.
In Chicago, the Cardiss Collins facility downtown at 433 W. Harrison St. will remain open until midnight Monday for last-minute filers. There will be collections at street level. A second-floor retail area will be open inside for anyone who wants certified mail and other services.
No other Chicago postal stations will offer extended hours.
April 15 is also the deadline to file an amended return for your 2015 tax return. Generally, you get three years after the original filing deadline for that specific tax year or two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
You must use the Form 1040X to file an amended return. Taxpayers should file an amended return if their employer made a mistake on their original W-2 and a corrected one. Same thing if a financial institution corrects a 1099 form.
You may also want to file an amended return if you realized you missed a key deduction or credit, or didn’t change your filing status after a life change.
How to file for an extension
If you can’t make the deadline, it’s a simple process to get a six-month extension. But you must file for an extension by April 15. There are two ways to do this.
You can file for one online using “Free File” from the major tax prep companies. Or, you can fill out a Form 4868 and mail it to the IRS address in your state. It must be postmarked by April 15.
Don’t forget: If you’re expecting a refund, you won’t get it until after you file your return. Second, if you owe money, you still must pay the estimated tax bill by April 15.
How to pay what you owe
If you have a tax bill, the IRS must receive your payment by the April 15 tax deadline – or April 17 for Maine and Massachusetts residents – even if you filed for an extension. If you’re late, you can be charged a penalty and interest.
By bank account: Your tax prep software provides an option to automatically withdraw from a bank account to pay your bill when you e-file. Or, you can use the IRS “Direct Pay” service, which takes from your checking or savings account at no cost.
By debit or credit card: For a service fee, you can pay online or by phone through one of these processors: WorldPay US, Link2GovCorporation or Official Payments.
By wire transfer: Some banks can do a same-day wire for your payment. You need to fill out the Same-Day Taxpayer Worksheet.
If the amount you owe is too much for you to afford all at once, you have three options from the IRS. You can apple for a short-term or long-term installment plan. You can apply to settle for a smaller amount. You can also request a temporary delay in payment from the IRS.