What Not To Do As Tax Day Approaches

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image shutterstock size-large wp-image-1065245177&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/1065245177/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;640&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; Shutterstock

Tax Day is just around the corner. This year, the filing season officially wraps for individual taxpayers on April 17, 2018. That leaves a few days for taxpayers who haven&s;t yet filed to get those returns out. The last-minute scramble can make even the most level-headed among us a little crazy. Don&s;t give in. Here&s;s what not to do as Tax Day approaches:

&l;/p&g;&l;ul&g;&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Ask your tax professional to &q;hold up&q; because you want to add one more thing.&l;/strong&g; It isn&s;t likely that you can bring in new or extra information at this late date and expect to file a complete and correct tax return on time. You&s;re not the only taxpayer trying to get your tax return finished: Your tax professional is trying to juggle requests from other clients, too. In most cases, the best strategy at this point is to&a;nbsp;file for an extension. It&s;s free and easy. &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/04/09/if-youre-not-yet-ready-to-file-your-tax-return-in-2018-heres-how-to-get-an-extension/#4fa414712f00&q;&g;Here&s;s how&l;/a&g;.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Put your tax return in a pile of &q;mail to go to the post office.&q;&l;/strong&g; I get it: You don&s;t want the government to have your money a second early. So, you put your tax return in a pile of mail on your desk that will eventually make it to the post office. However, if you&s;re ever going to have a Murphy&s;s Law moment, it&s;s going to be on Tax Day. Or the day before Tax Day. Don&s;t let your passive-aggressive plan to make the feds wait&a;nbsp;a little longer make you fall victim to a way too busy day or a failed memory.&a;nbsp;Craft a realistic plan to mail your tax return (you can find post office locations and hours &l;a href=&q;https://tools.usps.com/go/POLocatorAction!input.action&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;here&l;/a&g;) and follow through in advance.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Scour stores looking for tax software.&l;/strong&g; Tax software is still available in some stores, but it&s;s getting harder to find. In most cases, tax software in a box is treated the same as Easter candy: It&s;s been on the shelves for weeks now and once it&s;s gone, it&s;s not going to be restocked. You can probably find a tax software box or two on the shelves but you may not get your first pick, and filing with the black jellybean equivalent of tax software isn&s;t optimal. A better plan? Consider the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Free File option, available for free for 70% of taxpayers, which you can find online &l;a href=&q;https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;here&l;/a&g;. You can also file using an online version of DIY tax prep from the usual suspects.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Haggle with your tax professional on price.&l;/strong&g; If you wait until the very last minute to buy airline tickets, the chances are that you won&s;t be able to score a deal to the most appealing garden spots. Ditto when it comes to tax prep. As Tax Day draws near, your tax professional&s;s time is more, not less, valuable. While there&s;s still time to find a tax professional who will agree to prepare your return – maybe even while you wait – don&s;t expect a discount.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Start looking for your tax forms.&l;/strong&g;&a;nbsp;With a few exceptions, you should have most of your tax forms by now (you can find the due dates – and what to do if you don&s;t have your forms &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/01/11/due-dates-for-your-w-2-1099-other-tax-forms-in-2018-and-what-to-do-if-theyre-missing/#2fe38b69367e&q;&g;here&l;/a&g;). But if you don&s;t have your tax forms by now, don&s;t panic and start making calls or sending nasty-grams. Even if you start today, the chances of having&a;nbsp;those forms in hand by Tuesday are pretty slim. Take a breath and file for an extension, then tackle those missing forms next week.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Call your tax professional to talk about that project you discussed last August.&l;/strong&g; Your tax professional may be awesome. Your tax professional may love you. Your tax professional may be thrilled to have your business. But – and this is important – your tax professional doesn&s;t want to hear from you today about anything that doesn&s;t have to do with the word &q;extension.&q; The same applies to tomorrow. And the weekend. Unless you&s;re filing for an extension, put the phone down.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).&l;/strong&g; On a routine day, the chances of the IRS picking up the phone are about 7 in 10. With those odds, don&s;t assume that you can camp out on your phone today or tomorrow and still meet your filing deadline. The IRS has a lot of online options available, including frequently asked questions, forms and instructions,&a;nbsp;and transcripts. Check out &l;a href=&q;https://www.irs.gov&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;irs.gov&l;/a&g; for more.&l;/li&g;

&l;li&g;&l;strong&g;Start looking for a tax professional.&l;/strong&g;&a;nbsp;Again, it&s;s not impossible to find a tax professional at this late date. But you do want to exercise caution. Make sure that any tax preparer who&a;nbsp;is accepting new clients&a;nbsp;is a &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2016/01/18/12-questions-to-ask-when-choosing-a-tax-preparer/#6646b8c1592f&q;&g;good fit&l;/a&g;&a;nbsp;for you. Don&s;t get dazzled by credentials (find out what they mean&a;nbsp;&l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/03/13/taxes-from-a-to-z-2018-e-is-for-enrolled-agent/#7223ed21195f&q;&g;here&l;/a&g;) and avoid tax preparers who refuse to sign your return (so-called &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/03/16/taxes-from-a-to-z-2018-g-is-for-ghost-preparer/#4ba7e9f817cd&q;&g;ghost preparers&l;/a&g;). To find a list of tax&a;nbsp;&l;span&g;preparers in your area who hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion, check out the &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/03/13/taxes-from-a-to-z-2018-e-is-for-enrolled-agent/#7223ed21195f&q;&g;IRS PTIN public directory&l;/a&g;. But if you come up empty, don&s;t panic: After you&s;ve filed for an extension, you can find a good tax professional next week (okay, maybe the week after, since many will be recuperating from tax season).&l;/span&g;&l;/li&g;