What, you haven't filed your taxes yet? Join the tax procrastinators club--which is a healthy minority in San Francisco.
According to TurboTax, the tax preparation software company, San Francisco was the nation's capital of tax procrastinators in 2011. More than 40 percent of us filed personal income tax returns during the last two weeks before the deadline that year. We managed to out-procrastinate New York and D.C. Nationwide, 28 percent of Americans wait until the last couple of weeks to file, the IRS says.
The good news for lagging San Franciscans is that tax day in 2012 is April 17, thanks to the traditional April 15 deadline falling on Sunday, and April 16 being Emancipation Day, an official Washington, D.C. holiday that commemorates Abraham Lincoln's granting freedom to the District's slaves 150 years ago. The bad news is that our championship title is a huge gain from a year earlier, when we were merely 6th on the list of tax procrastinators.
TurboTax's annual list comes from tallying the number of returns filed via its online service in the 11th hour of the year before. It says 23 million people annually use its software to submit their taxes. After San Francisco, the rest of the country's top 10 tax procrastinators (with their prior year's ranking in brackets) are:
2. New York [#3]: More than 38 percent of New Yorkers file last-minute.
3. Washington, D.C. [#12].
4. Los Angeles [#9]: In the top 10 for five years straight.
5. Seattle [#7]: More than 30 percent of Seattleites stall until the end.
6. Austin [#4]
7. Minneapolis [first time in the top 10]
8. Denver [first time in the top 10]
9. San Diego [# 8].
10. Portland [#13]: More than 28 percent of residents put off filing.
While San Francisco's filing slowed, much of Texas got its act together: Dallas, San Antonio and even Houston--which had been the No. 1 procrastinator in five of the last 10 years--dropped out of the top 10.
In another TurboTax survey, 60% of Americans said that people who don't put off taxes and other financial matters are more attractive. And about three-fourths of US taxpayers get a tax refund that averages nearly $3000. So why do we still stall?
Because we're lazy, and because there's no immediate punishment (unlike lowering your credit score if you miss mortgage or credit card payments). Because of addiction to the adrenaline from pushing deadlines (getting your foot in the door seconds before the post office worker locks it). And because we can get an extension to file, for up to 6 months.
Tips for Last-Minute Filers
- If you file for an extension, just remember that you don't get an extension on paying your tax. You have to estimate what you might owe and pay that amount by April 17, or you could be charged interest and fines.
- Even if you can't pay all of your tax. experts say you should still file your return. The IRS this year is actually trying to help taypayers by offering more streamlined installment plans and waiving some penalties.
- Filing by regular mail? Your return will bear the all-important April 17, 2012 postmark as long as you get it to a post office before closing time on April 17. Most post offices are sticking to their normal closing hours that day (typically 5, 5:30 or 6 pm ). Two post offices in the Bay Area that offer extended hours on April 17 are:
* 1300 Evans Ave., San Francisco, 94124 (near India Basin): Curbside drop-off until 10 pm.
* SFO, 660 W. Field Rd., San Francisco, 94128: Open until midnight.