Last minute tax tips for the 2012 tax filing season. The IRS is offering Free File this year which may allow homeowners and other tax payers to file electronically at no charge.

We’re now just one week out from the IRS’ 2012 deadline of April 17 for the filing of personal income tax returns. And while navigating through forms, itemized tax deductions and a pile of receipts may not be your idea of a good time, it is as William Shakespeare said, “nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

If you’ve gotten a late start in compiling your information this year and are beginning to feel panicked, don’t. You can survive the season, especially with these last minute tax tips:

  1. Note that the deadline to file has been extended to April 17, rather than the typical due date of April 15. As the latter date falls on a Sunday this year, when post offices are closed and IRS offices are not open for business, the extra 48 hours can be a boon to the procrastinator. And here’s a fun fact: if you owe the government money, you must file your tax return on time, but there are no repercussions for filing late if the government has to write you a check. Granted, not many of us are eager to delay the receipt of funds, but if you’re really against the wall and are not beholden to Uncle Sam, an extra day or two won’t hurt.
  2. If you’ve waited to gather supporting documentation, get cracking! You will need W-2s (earnings statements), 1099s (interest/dividend statements) and homeowners will require a 1098 to report the amount of mortgage interest and real estate taxes paid. If you itemize, make sure have the receipts to backup your deductions.
  3. If possible, file electronically. Many Americans can prepare and file their federal tax returns for free this year using Free File, provided their adjusted gross income for 2011 is $57,000 or less. Visit the IRS web site at and click on the Free File link to confirm your eligibility. You may also talk to a trusted tax preparer about your options. In any case, filing electronically saves time and may result in quicker delivery of your refund.

These are just some of the tips for making the imminent conclusion of the 2012 tax filing season a little less intense. Take it one step at a time and by all means, be thorough. Rushing through and committing errors can create bigger problems down the road.