Monday is October 15th. Individual tax returns on extension are due. What do you do if you haven’t done anything except procrastinate? It’s time to file your return.

The IRS website has all the forms. Dig up all of your paperwork (W-2s, 1099s, etc.) and get working on it. If you’re lucky, you will find a tax professional who isn’t buried with his or her own procrastinators. If not, you can still find software to help you. But don’t wait until October 16th; your extension will be invalid and you will owe the failure to file penalty–5% of the tax due per month late (to a maximum of 25%).

So let’s say it’s 7:00pm and you’re now ready to file your paper return; how can you get it postmarked with an October 15th postmark? That’s far easier than it used to be. Many post offices have Automated Postal Centers (there’s even one in the supermarket I go to). If you select certified mail (which you can do with the machine–it will even print out the certified sticker and the return receipt), and pay for the postage at the APC, the stamp label printed by the APC will note the date of purchase. At 11:50pm on October 15th, it will say October 15, 2012…and your return will be considered timely filed.

Of course, if you file electronically you don’t have to worry about the post office. As long as your return is filed by 11:59pm on October 15th, it is considered timely filed. If you are going to use the Postal Service, spend the money for certified mail, return receipt requested. You will get proof that you mail your return timely and proof that the tax agency received it.

Finally, next year consider not procrastinating. Your tax professional will appreciate it.