Gerald Haggerty of Haggerty Financial Services, Jim Thorpe, had his busiest year ever for filing income taxes.

One reason, he said, is because some individual tax preparers have given up the practice due to increasing pending educational demands and fees being assessed.

He said he had about 40 new customers this year.

Still, he's managed to get them all finished in time for today's tax filing deadline.

"I'm in pretty good shape," the veteran preparer said. "I have two pickups yet."

Today marks the deadline for individuals filing federal, state, and local income taxes.

If you've been procrastinating and don't have your taxes done, don't panic. But don't ignore the deadline.

Not filing can lead to penalties, interest charged on money owed to tax entities, and even criminal charges if you blatantly don't file.

There are three ways to request what the IRS calls an "automatic extension of time to file a U.S. individual income tax return."

They are:

Ÿ You can file Form 4868 electronically by accessing IRS e-file using your home computer or by using a tax professional who uses e-file. For 4868, which is simple to fill out, is available on the IRS Web site.

Ÿ You can pay all or part of your estimate of income tax due using a credit or debit card or by using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

Ÿ You can file a paper Form 4868. The paper form, which can be downloaded from the IRS site, must be filed by today's deadline.

If you file electronically through the IRS Web site, you will receive an electronic acknowledgment once you complete the transaction. Keep it with your records. Do not send in Form 4868 if you file electronically, unless you are making a payment with a check or money order.

Several companies offer free e-filing of Form 4868 through the Free File program. For more details, go to IRS.gov and click on freefile.

You can get an extension if you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due by using a credit or debit card. Your payment must be at least $1. You can also get an extension when you pay part or all of your estimate of income tax due using EFTPS. You can pay by phone or over the Internet.

No area post offices have extended hours for tax day. At one time some post offices used to stay open until 9 p.m. or even midnight to accommodate procrastinators.

Not this year. One reason is that more people file their returns electronically instead of using the mail.

The IRS, the state, and even Berkheimer, the firm handling earned income tax for virtually all area school districts and municipalities, encourage electronic filing.

In fact, individuals who are registered preparers with the IRS are mandated to file electronically if they file more than 10 returns, unless the consumer requests that they be manually filed.

Many tax preparers breathe a sigh of relief when April 15 arrives.

Not Haggerty. He said once tax season ends, he concentrates on his other financial services, which includes investments, insurance, annuities, and advisory services.