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Filing Late Income Tax

April 15th is the deadline for most people to file their individual income tax return and pay any tax owed. If you owe tax and don't file on time, the total late-filing penalty is usually five percent of the tax owed for each month or part of a month that your return is late, up to five months. You must file your return and pay your tax by the due date to avoid interest and penalty charges. This dry and unsoothing message is brought to you by your federal government, from the office of Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of the Treasury Department.

Here's another message from them: It's never too late to file. They'd also like you to know that they provide free assistance when you are parting yourself from your hard-earned money and can't decide what form to use, the one that's bloody and torn, or the one covered with hand-pasted thousand-dollar bills fanning out around a bright-yellow smiley face.

They will accept payment from as far back as you care to name, although some of the law firms specializing in coming between you and the IRS (for the purpose of taking some of your hard-earned cash before it all goes to Uncle), won't venture beyond 1990 with you. Bear in mind at all times that the IRS charges an interest on the penalties they assess, so the clock is always ticking. Always. Like a one-two beat. One-two. One-two.

Once you've filed - and paid - late, take it as a given that you're more likely to be audited in the future than your next-door neighbor. Hey, it just happens, right? There's no computer primed to pull your name out of that big old IRS hat. Don't be so paranoid.

Under the current circumstances it's difficult to predict what's going to happen as a result of what will surely be a record number of defaulted IRS payments due April 15, 2010. If you're maxed out on the credit cards, you won't be getting a loan just so you can pay off Uncle Sam. Not your fault, of course. Lousy credit doesn't generally earn a warm reception at loan companies and banks. Maybe U.S. tax-payers will be getting the next big government bail-out ... well, one can always hope.

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