With time rapidly running out for the April 15 midnight tax deadline, nearly one-third of U.S. taxpayers still haven't filed their federal tax returns. All across the country, this weekend is going to be a harrowing time for those filling out last-minute tax forms.
The procrastinators - many of whom vow each year that they'll be more prompt next tax season - will flood IRS offices with an estimated 27 million tax returns. Another nine million will be late or ask for extensions.Military and other personnel who served in the Persian Gulf war are being given at least 180 days and as much as 285 days from the date they left the combat zone to file federal tax returns.
Those who completed taxes earlier can afford to be smug about the last-minute frenzy not only because the ordeal is over but also because they probably have a refund in hand. The IRS says that 80 percent of those who filed earlier were getting refunds - an average of $902 per taxpayer so far, or 6 percent more than last year.
Many of the late filers probably owe additional money, which is one reason they wait until the last minute.
For those involved in the frantic finish, just a few reminders involving the most common mistakes: Don't forget to attach all W-2 forms to the return; be sure to claim the correct deduction, including the larger allowance for those over 65; read the tax table carefully to get the correct tax; check all math, especially the subtraction to figure refunds or taxes due; sign the return.
One other suggestion. Use the checkoff boxes on federal and state returns to give money to state political parties and presidential elections. Doing this does not increase or reduce a person's taxes or refund, but the money is badly needed to finance political campaigns and reduce the dependence on special interests.