People with tax extensions must file returns by Aug. 15 deadline

People with tax extensions must file returns by Aug. 15 deadline If you requested a tax filing extension, the Internal Revenue Service reminds you that your 2002 federal income tax return is due Friday, Aug. 15.

Anyone who electronically requested an extension or filed a paper form 4868 by the original April 15 deadline received an automatic four-month filing extension.

Although you have the option of filing a paper tax return, the IRS urges you to kick the paper habit and file your return electronically. Even after the original April 15 deadline has come and gone, e-file is still the fastest, safest and most accurate way to file, the IRS says. If you use the services of a tax professional, ask that person to file your return electronically.

A record number of South Dakotans are filing their returns electronically this year. As of Aug. 3, the IRS had received 156,522 e-filed returns from people in South Dakota. This year, about 43 percent of all returns are being filed electronically in South Dakota, the IRS says.

Electronic filing includes returns e-filed with the assistance of a tax professional, returns filed on-line by individuals using tax preparation software, and basic returns filed over the phone using the IRS TeleFile system. To locate a tax preparer or software developer who offers electronic filing services, visit the e-file section of the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.

Nationwide, more than 80 percent of returns filed after April 15 claim a refund. If you're due a refund, the IRS says, you can get it faster � usually in about 10 to 15 days � by filing your return electronically and choosing to have your refund deposited directly into your checking or savings account. Also, direct deposit eliminates the possibility of a lost, stolen, or undeliverable refund.

According to the IRS, you will owe interest on any taxes paid after April 15. The interest rate is 5 percent per year, compounded daily. In some cases, a late payment penalty may also be due.

If you're unable to finish your return by Aug. 15, you can apply for an additional two-month extension by filling out Form 2688. Unlike the original extension, the IRS says, this second extension is not automatic. You must explain why you need extra time. The IRS will let you know whether or not your request is approved.

If your return is done and you owe money, the IRS urges you to file on time even if you can't pay the amount due. By sending part of the amount due with your return, you will reduce the interest and late payment charges added to your bill later.

You can request an installment payment agreement with the IRS by submitting Form 9465. Any IRS form can be downloaded from the agency's Web site.

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