Running out of time to make the April 15 deadline? Here's your game plan for getting the job done:
Sneak in a tax cut. You still have time to snag a 2012 deduction: Contribute to a traditional IRA or health savings account. Even if your workplace has a 401(k) plan, you can get a partial IRA deduction with a modified adjusted gross income of $112,000 ($68,000 for singles). Mail checks by April 15 or do a same-day transfer online.
Skip the post office. Don't bet on mailing your return at the 11th hour; with 80% of people e-filing in 2012, the Postal Service has fewer locations open late on the 15th. FedEx's evening hours will be normal, and some UPS sites will delay closing. Search for "private delivery services" on irs.gov to get the IRS street address you'll need.
Pay now. File later. To get an automatic six months' grace period, send form 4868 via mail or at freefile.irs.gov. You'll still owe taxes on the 15th, though. Estimate your bill by starting with last year's return and adjusting for changes, says St. Louis CPA Ken Rubin. Check your state tax agency's website to see if you have to file separately for a state extension. -- Lauren Gensler
You can't escape the paperwork, but you can find ways to save on your taxes.