How to File Your Taxes on the Last Day

So, it's April 15th and you haven't filed your taxes yet. Don't worry—we're gonna skip the lecture and get right to the solution.

You will need

  • Your tax documents
  • A computer

Step 1 Clear your schedule Clear your schedule. This is no joke. Failure to file by the deadline could result in fines, penalties, and interest on taxes owed. If you’re due a refund, you could forfeit some or all of it. You’ve got to make time to get this done—today!

Step 2 Gather your papers Locate any forms, statements, and receipts you think may be even remotely relevant to your income, expenses, and deductions. When in doubt, remember that it’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them.

Step 3 Sign, seal, and deliver If you don’t want to file online, complete the necessary tax forms and get them, along with your check or checks for any taxes owed to the post office by midnight. Not all branches will be open late, so check with your local postmaster.

Step 4 Embrace your computer If you want to avoid standing in line at a post office with 7,000 other last-minute losers, file your taxes online. Start by going to and selecting one of their authorized e-file providers.

Step 5 Don’t take shortcuts If you encounter errors or red flags when entering your information, do not ignore them. If you can’t fix them on your own, you may have to pony up for some last-minute professional advice.

Step 6 Get a stay of execution If you feel you can’t possibly get it all done today, file Form 4868 to request an extension of up to six months. But remember—even with an extension, you still must pay an estimate of any taxes you owe on April 15th. You’ll adjust this amount later once you’ve actually finished your taxes.

Step 7 Rejoice Rejoice! You’ve dodged a bullet.