Final tax deadline near for those who delayed

The Oct. 15 deadline is approaching for taxpayers who requested a six-month extension to file their 2008 tax returns.

Nationwide, an estimated 10.5 million taxpayers filed for an extension, including more than 381,000 Carolinians, Internal Revenue Service officials said. The totals include 119,000 taxpayers in South Carolina and 262,000 in North Carolina.

The extension is additional time to file a tax return, not additional time to pay taxes, the officials noted.

"Don't wait until the last minute to file your tax return," said Mark Hanson, IRS spokesman. "If you start now, you can make sure your tax return is accurate and that you've claimed all the credits and deductions available to you."

IRS officials encouraged taxpayers to use IRS e-file to submit their returns electronically.

IRS e-file will be available to individual taxpayers through the extension period, agency officials said.

So far, more than 4.2 million taxpayers in the Carolinas have filed electronically, representing more than 70 percent of returns from two states, IRS officials said. Nationwide, more than 93 million taxpayers filed electronically.

Taxpayers who earned less than $56,000 in 2008, or more than 70 percent of taxpayers in the Carolinas, can e-file for free by visiting and clicking on "Free File" to get started, IRS officials said.

Free File is the private-public partnership between the IRS and a consortium of tax preparation software manufacturers who formed the Free File Alliance. The group makes software and electronic filing available free to eligible taxpayers.

Some taxpayers can wait until after Oct. 15 to file returns, IRS officials said. Included are those serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zones and people affected by recent natural disasters.

IRS officials said Oct. 15 also is the deadline for special voluntary disclosures by taxpayers with assets in previously undisclosed offshore financial accounts.