Can’t find a tax preparer because you procrastinated? Here’s what to do

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For whatever reason this year, you haven’t filed your personal tax return and now you’re pushing up against the deadline. And all the tax preparers you’ve reached out to are booked solid. If you can’t or don’t want to do your taxes yourself, you’re running out of options … or are you?

Here are four ways to get your 2015 taxes filed on time.

1. Cast a Wider Net
Even if you think you’ve contacted every tax preparer in town, you might’ve missed one or two or 10. Widen your search using the IRS’s public directory of tax return preparers. You can use this tool to help you select a tax return preparer with the credentials and qualifications that you prefer, and hopefully the availability you need.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants also offers a list of all the state CPA member organizations, which often can connect you with a local CPA who might be able to help you file.

2. Use a Tax Preparation Software
The IRS offers free software to help you file your taxes, but that requires you to actually know how to file your taxes yourself. Some of the same companies that work with the IRS to provide free tax software also offer inexpensive paid online filing for those who don’t qualify for free filing.

3. File for an Extension
If you’ve waited this long, why not just push that filing deadline back to October? This year, you can if you file Form 4868 before April 18 (you can file your extension electronically right on the IRS website). Just keep in mind that an extension to file is not an extension to pay, so if you think you owe taxes, you’ll need to estimate and pay those by April 18.

4. Seek Free Guidance
As harrowing as it might seem, you really can do your own taxes, and the whole process of doing them could take you only a handful of hours, so it might just be time to bite the bullet and get them done. If you’re new to doing your own taxes, or have a more complicated return this year and need some guidance, you can often find resources at your local library and even at universities and colleges. Give them a call and see if they can help.

And if you make less than $54,000 annually or are aged 65 or older, you can qualify for free tax preparation assistance from the IRS.

Remember, owing the IRS a big tax bill doesn’t automatically affect your credit, but how, when and if you choose to pay your taxes does. When considering how to pay your taxes, you may want to give yourcredit scores a look. You can see two credit scores for free each month on Credit.com, and the information may help you determine whether you can afford adding to your debt load or if you can qualify for a personal loan to help you pay your taxes.

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