This year everyone gets a tax break. April 15 falls on a Saturday, so everyone has an extra two days to file. Not that the IRS encourages procrastination, not at all. In fact, the revenue-gathering organization has already put out its “last minute” tax tips.

The list begins with IRS spokesperson Gregg Semanick asking: “Looking for ways to avoid the last-minute rush for doing your taxes? The IRS offers some stress relieving ideas to help those that have not yet filed.”

“Historically,” Semanick continues, in a prepared statement, “over 35 percent of the tax returns are filed during April.”

But, he continues, “there is no need to be in line at the Post Office at the eleventh hour on April 17. Our best advice: E-file now; pay later. You can electronically file your return now and schedule a payment via an electronic funds withdrawal from a bank account on April 17. If due a refund, E-filing and requesting direct deposit of a refund into a bank account, you can receive your money in as little as two weeks even if e-filing a tax return during the last days of the tax season.”

The IRS offers these additional tips:

Don’t procrastinate and organize your tax records. Resist the temptation to put off your taxes until the last minute. Your haste to meet the filing deadline may cause you to overlook potential sources of tax savings and will likely increase your risk of making an error. Tax preparation time can be significantly reduced if you develop a system for organizing your records and receipts. Start with the income, deduction, or tax credit items that were on last year’s return.

Visit the IRS online at IRS.gov. Millions of taxpayers visited the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, in calendar year 2005, downloading forms, publications, and a variety of topic-oriented tax information. Anyone with Internet access can also find tax law information and answers to frequently asked tax questions.

Access “1040 Central” for your tax information needs. Taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less can file their tax returns for free and online using the Free File Program at IRS.gov. The popularity of IRS.gov is reflected in the fact that there were more than 176 million visits to the Web site and 1.2 billion page views last year.

File your return electronically. Through mid-March, over 1 million New Jerseyans have already filed using the E-file program. Aside from ease of filing, IRS E-file is the fastest and most accurate way to file a tax return. If you’re due a refund, the waiting time for E-filers is half that of paper filers. Taxpayers may use IRS E-file through their tax preparer, over-the-counter software, or Internet programs as well as the Free File program at IRS.gov. The Free File program can be used by taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less.

Seek free tax return preparation through volunteer programs. Free tax help is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) or Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. The free VITA program services are available to taxpayers with incomes of $38,000 or less, non-English speaking, and the disabled. The free TCE program services are available to taxpayers 60 years of age or older. To obtain the location, dates, and hours of the VITA or TCE volunteer site closest to you, call the IRS toll-free Tax Help Line for Individuals at 1-800-829-1040 or call AARP at 1-888-227-7669.

Choose your tax preparer wisely. While most preparers provide excellent service to their clients, the IRS urges taxpayers to be very careful when choosing a tax preparer. You should be as careful as you would in choosing a doctor or a lawyer. It is important to know that even if someone else prepares your return, you are legally and ultimately responsible for all the information on the tax return.

Taxpayers needing Form 4868 or any other federal tax form should act soon to be sure they have the form in time. Forms are available on the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, or by calling toll-free 800-829-3676.

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