Deadline to file federal taxes has arrived

Taxpayers get three extra days to file their returns this year with the IRS deadline set for Tuesday April 18th. The delay was because the regular tax day April 15th fell on a weekend and Monday was a holiday, Emancipation Day in Washington D.C.

U.S. post offices will close at their regular times, according to USPS Bay Area spokesman Augustine Ruiz, so it's important to check the hours of the last collection.

Two post offices with final collections at 8:00 p.m. Tuesday are the SFO airport site at 660 W. Field Road and in San Jose at 1750 Lundy Avenue. One site has an 8:30 p.m. final collection in San Francisco at 1300 Evans Avenue.

At a post office in Walnut Creek, one California taxpayer didn't realize that he had extra time and rushed to finish his returns and put them in the mail Monday.

"Like a load off my back. It's good to get it done," said Jon Ory a Walnut Creek resident.

Mark Wright, another Walnut Creek resident, waited in line to post his returns.

"I have a small business, so it's enormously complicated. I wish they would simplify the tax code," said Wright.

Nearby, one man was filling out his forms right at the post office.

"I don't have time tomorrow to do it so I figured I'd better do it today," said Ken Patterson, an Antioch building contractor, "Pop it in the mail and we're done. Pound of flesh to the US government."

Lewis Ruff, is a veteran tax preparer who says he does about 400 returns a year. He says the date change caught many people off guard.

A lot of people coming in without appointments who suddenly realized, oops I'd better do something because tomorrows the last day," said Ruff, who works as an H&R Block office manager.

"I have my business taxes done, have my personal taxes done. So I'm happy," said Christopher Thomas, an El Cerrito DJ and owner of a recording label.

For those who need help, some tax preparation businesses will be open til 11:59 pm Tuesday.

The United Way Bay Area partners with the IRS to provide free tax help for people with incomes below $54,000 a year. California taxpayers can call 2-1-1 to find out locations and make appointments. Some sites will be open late on April 18th.

"We probably have 60-70 locations that can help people prepare their taxes. We have volunteers who are trained and certified," said Kelly Batson, Vice-President of Programs for the United Way Bay Area.

If you aren't ready, Ruff says don't worry.

"If you don't have your stuff together, if you have documents that are missing, file an extension. Take off the pressure. Then you get until October 15th in order to file," Ruff said.

"I filed an extension, and even that's stressful because that has to be done on time or you can get a penalty," said Janice Litvin, who dropped off her extension form Monday.

Remember, though, an extension to file, doesn't mean an extension to pay. The form still needs to get in the mail on time.