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4/13/2003

Tax deadline is Tuesday

Newsday

Sweeping changes to the tax code may be in the future, but for the moment, the most pressing problem for millions of taxpayers is filing their 2002 returns by Tuesday’s deadline. So, procrastinators better get to the post office, file electronically or ask for an extension.

Last year, about 27 million taxpayers — usually those who owe money to the government — waited until April to pay their taxes, according to the Internal Revenue Service. The agency receives approximately 61 percent of balance-due returns after April 15, while 73 percent of those expecting refunds file before April 1.

For those who need last-minute assistance, the IRS will staff a Tax Help Line for Individuals, (800) 829-1040, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. MDT on Sunday and 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. The Longmont post office will be open until midnight to accommodate late filers.

If you drop your return in the mailbox, make sure you do it before the last collection on April 15 so you get the proper postmark.

If you just can’t make it in time, you should request an extension by filing Form 4868. This automatically gives you four additional months, to Aug. 15. You later can file for an extra two months, to Oct. 15, by filing Form 2688, though you must provide a valid reason why you need more time.

You can file by mailing in Form 4868, calling (888) 796-1074 or e-filing the extension request using tax software or an online tax preparer. You will need to estimate your tax liability for the year, and have your adjusted gross income and total tax amounts from your 2001 return.

You will owe a late payment penalty if at least 90 percent of the total tax due has not been paid by April 15.