Midnight today is the deadline for filing federal tax returns.
Today’s deadline applies even to people filing for an extension. Tax forms or requests for extensions must be filed either electronically or postmarked by the midnight deadline or filers will be subjected to late fees.
There is one major change this year, however. Anyone who has been affected by the Oso mudslide is able to receive an automatic deadline extension to Oct. 15. Those affected do not need to contact the IRS first.
The IRS is working off the April 2 federal disaster declaration in determining who is affected by the mudslide. That declaration covers residents of Snohomish County and the Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish and Tulalip reservations.
The IRS has a special number to help tax filers in the disaster area get more information: 866-562-5227.
“Getting a FEMA registration number does not assure you of getting disaster assistance,” FEMA spokesman Donald Jacks said. But it does start the process of determining if that assistance will be available, he said, and having a number might be useful if someone is filing taxes late because of the slide.
Staff at the three designated Disaster Recovery Centers in Darrington, Oso and Arlington are also able to answer some questions about taxes, Jacks said.
The IRS is going to follow the lead of FEMA in determining exactly who qualifies.
“But we’re going to work with the taxpayers, regardless,” said IRS spokesman David Tucker.
For taxpayers who are not affected by the mudslide, an extension to file taxes is still possible: filing IRS Form 4868 extends the deadline to Oct. 15, but that form must also be postmarked or filed electronically today.
Filing electronically is done online at www.irs.gov/uac/Free-File:-Do-Your-Federal-Taxes-for-Free, whether the taxpayer is filing a full return or an extension.
In addition, no post offices in Snohomish County are open for extended hours today. For example, the main post office in downtown Everett, at 3102 Hoyt Ave., is only open until 5:30 p.m. today.
There have been some budget cuts at the agency, but the real reason is because most taxpayers are now filing their taxes online and there is no longer a need to staff extended hours, said Ernie Swanson, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
As of April 4, nearly 98.2 million tax returns have been filed, according to the IRS, and 92 percent of them have been filed electronically.
Some mail collection boxes might have collection times that are later in the evening than the post office’s staffed hours, but taxpayers should pay attention to those times.
“If you miss the last collection time it’s going to miss the collection day and not get the April 15 postmark,” Swanson said.
A list of local post offices and their operating hours, sorted by ZIP code, is available online at tools.usps.com/go/POLocatorAction.
Some services exist to help last-minute filers. The United Way of Snohomish County is providing free tax preparation help at several locations for people who made less than $52,000 last year. The service is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and the taxpayer will need to mail their tax forms in themselves afterward.
More information from the United Way is online at www.uwsc.org/freetaxpreparationcampaign.php.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Way tax preparation locations
Goodwill’s South Everett Job Training and Education Center, 228 SW Everett Mall Way, open today 5:30-8:30 p.m.
North Middle School, 2514 Rainier Ave., 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
South Everett Foursquare Church/Children’s Village, 14 E Casino Road, Suite D, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cedar Valley Community School, 19200 56th Avenue W, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Goodwill’s Marysville Job Training and Education Center, 9315 State Ave., 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Park Place Middle School, 1408 W Main St., 5:30-8:30 p.m.