By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Time is running out to complete your federal tax return. Whether you haven’t started, or you just haven’t finished, 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has this last minute advice for procrastinators.

The clock is ticking, but if you haven’t started your federal tax return, experts say don’t panic. Tax expert Vera Gibbons says, “Step back, take a deep breath, sit down at the computer, go online, get it together. And then once you’re done, just e-file. That’s the easiest, most convenient way to actually get through this process.”

If you can’t get an accountant on the phone at this late date, tax preparation software is one option, especially to help you catch valuable deductions and credits. According to Gibbons, “The American Opportunity Credit–for education, for tuition, college costs–that one’s worth up to $2,500. And you’ve got the Child Care Credit, that’s worth up to 35 percent of your child care costs. So these are the kinds of breaks you want to make sure you’re claiming if you’re eligible to claim them.”

You can file for a six-month extension, but keep in mind that doesn’t stop the clock on paying a balance. Gibbons says, “It’s an extension to file, not an extension to pay. If you owe the government money, you’ve got to pay them your best estimate of what you think you owe by April 17th; there’s no way around it.

You may be wondering why the tax deadline is April 17th this year. That’s because April 15th falls on a Sunday, and there is a holiday on Monday in the District of Columbia. So be sure to make the most of those two extra days!

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