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Taxes

Taxes are due today -- here are some last-minute filing tips

Today is Tax Day. Here's how to file your return quickly and hassle-free.

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Today is when most people have to file their taxes, though there are many Americans who still haven't sent in their returns to the IRS.

If you've procrastinated, the right tax prep software can help speed the process along: Two top performers, TurboTax and H&R Block, have both free and paid tiers that address common tax situations.

TurboTax

On TurboTax's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    TurboTax Free Edition. ~37% of taxpayers qualify. Form 1040 + limited credits only.

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Click here for TurboTax offer details and disclosures. Terms apply.

H&R Block

On H&R Block's secure site
  • Cost

    Costs may vary depending on the plan selected (Free Online, Deluxe, Premium, or Self-Employed) - click "Learn More" for details

  • Free version

    Yes (for simple returns only)

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Live support

    Available with some pricing and filing options

Terms apply.

But with just hours to go, there's not much time. Here's what you need to know If you still need to wrap up your 2023 tax return.

How to get your taxes done quickly

Gather your tax documents

Everyone's return will look different, but most filers will need one or more of these common tax documents:

The deadline for employers, loan servicers and others to send these forms was January 31, 2024. If you haven't received a particular document yet, reach out to the appropriate office. (You may be able to access the necessary form online.)

If you cannot get a W-2 by the filing deadline, you can use Form 4852, "Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement." But, according to the IRS, any refund will be delayed while the information is verified.

Physical copies of other documents, like the 1098, aren't required to file your return — just the information they include.

File for free with the IRS

If your adjusted gross income (AGI) was less than $79,000 in 2023, you may be able to file your taxes for free through one of several government-backed programs.

IRS Direct File

Direct File is a pilot program that allows you to file a federal tax return online directly with the IRS. Currently, it's only available in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

In addition to the income requirements, you must be a W-2 employee, receive Social Security or unemployment insurance or have investment income of less than $1,500. You must also have a Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and a valid state ID or passport.

IRS Free File

IRS Free File is another no-cost online service for filers with an AGI of $79,000 or less. It's actually a partnership between the IRS and several top tax prep sites, including TaxSlayer and FreeTaxUSA. Filers can choose which to work with based on their income, age, location and filing needs — and some partners will file state returns for free, as well.

There are other free programs including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance for lower-income filers, Tax Counseling for the Elderly and MilTax, a software program for U.S. servicemembers, veterans and their families.

Online tax software

Many tax software companies have free versions that can be used to file simple returns with standard deductions. Unlike most, Cash App Taxes lets you file both federal and state taxes at no cost.

Cash App Taxes (formerly Credit Karma Tax)

On Cash App's secure site
  • Cost

    $0 federal and state

  • Free version

    Yes

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    No

Another free provider, FreeTaxUSA, accepts tax forms other no-cost options don't — including itemized deductions, income from investments and HSA contributions. There are also paid tiers with live chat, unlimited amendments and personalized advice from a tax pro.

FreeTaxUSA

On FreeTaxUSA's secure site
  • Cost

    $0 federal, $14.99 state

  • Mobile app

    Yes

  • Tax expert support

    Yes, costs extra

Terms apply.

If you have real estate investments, own a business or have other complex tax issues, you may need to buy an online tax-prep program.

How to filing a tax extension

Ignoring your return is a bad idea: Interest and penalties accrue immediately after Tax Day and continue until your balance is paid in full. Eventually, the government could garnish your wages, place a lien on your property or even revoke your passport.

You can file an extension if you need more time to complete your return. You'll still have to pay any outstanding taxes by April 15, 2024, but you'll have more time to get your forms together.

"It's an extension of time to send in your documents, not to pay your money," Steber said.

There are three ways to file for an extension:

  • Pay all or part of the estimated tax due using Direct Pay, the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or a credit card or debit card. Indicate the payment is for an extension
  • File Form 4868 electronically using tax software or a tax professional.
  • File a paper Form 4868 and enclose payment of the estimated taxes due.

Once you have submitted Form 4868, you will have until Oct. 15, 2024, to complete your 2023 tax return.

FAQs

For most Americans, federal income tax returns are due on April 15, 2024, at midnight local time. Because of the observances of Patriot's Day and Emancipation Day, taxpayers living in Maine and Massachusetts have until Wednesday, April 17, 2024, to file federal returns. In addition if you live in a part of Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and West Virginia declared a disaster area by FEMA, you have until June 17, 2024.

If you filed your federal return electronically and are due a refund, the IRS says you can generally expect it within 21 days. Enrolling in direct deposit will help you get your money faster, too. If there is an issue with your return or if you filed a paper return, it may take a month or longer.

The deadline to file a tax extension is the same as Tax Day, April 15, 2024. You will have until Oct. 15, 2024, to file your return, but you still need to make an estimated payment by April 15.


FAQs

For most Americans, federal income tax returns are due on April 15, 2024, at midnight local time. Because of the observances of Patriot's Day and Emancipation Day, taxpayers living in Maine and Massachusetts have until Wednesday, April 17, 2024, to file federal returns. In addition if you live in a part of Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island and West Virginia declared a disaster area by FEMA, you have until June 17, 2024.

If you filed your federal return electronically and are due a refund, the IRS says you can generally expect it within 21 days. Enrolling in direct deposit will help you get your money faster, too. If there is an issue with your return or if you filed a paper return, it may take a month or longer.

The deadline to file a tax extension is the same as Tax Day, April 15, 2024. You will have until Oct. 15, 2024, to file your return, but you still need to make an estimated payment by April 15.

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Bottom line

Filing your taxes isn't fun, but it is important. With just days remaining, you need to organize your paperwork and choose the right tax preparation software or professional to help you make the April 15 deadline.

Meet our experts

At CNBC Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. For this story, we interviewed Mark Steber, senior vice president and chief tax information officer at Jackson Hewitt. Mark has more than 30 years of experience in the tax field and is Jackson Hewitt's liaison with the IRS and other tax authorities.

Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every tax guide is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of tax software products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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