It's hard to believe anybody could forget, but every year millions and millions of Americans do. And just as many ignore the day altogether, fooling themselves into thinking that it will just go away. Wrong and wrong.

Today is the deadline to file your federal tax return. If you’ve been waiting until the last minute, you’re not alone. In fact, if past is prologue, as many as 43 million Americans will wait until the last minute to file those returns with Uncle Sam.

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But what if, for any number of reasons, you can’t file. Maybe you're missing forms or other important documentation. Or like so many, you've put it off and now you don't have time. Well, then, tax experts say, you should file an extension.

Just one problem there. That extension just gives you extra time to file your return. It doesn't give you extra time to pay. So, if you owe the federal government that payment needs to be made today or the penalty clock starts ticking and the amount you owe starts going up.

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Is there any good news in all of this? Well, how about that you have until midnight to get your return - and check - in the mail and postmarked. But the best way to avoid penalties and interest, tax consultants say, is to go online and file (and pay) electronically.

And you want a little more good news? Louisiana is one of the few states with a tax return deadline that doesn't match up with the feds. Your Louisiana return doesn't have to be in until Monday, May 16.

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