RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Consider yourself on the three-day warning.

The North Carolina Department of Revenue sent out a reminder that you have only three more days to file your 2021 state and federal tax returns to avoid penalties.

April 18 is the deadline this year, which is earlier than the pandemic-delayed closes of the past two years but still later than the legal deadline of April 15.

You got your first break in taxes because Easter is on April 17, which lands Good Friday on April 15, and well, federal and state government offices essentially are closed that day. So no tax returns must be filed until the following Monday.

The IRS reports that tax filing is a little behind this year: As of March 25, some 81,371 million returns had been received, which is about 4.3% fewer than at the same time on last year’s delayed schedule.  Because of greater efficiency, though, about 3.8% more returns have been processed, meaning the 2.4% more of us who are receiving refunds have in fact gotten their money.

The average refund is up about 12%, too. More and more people are using direct deposit, which speeds things up as well.

We already knew that refunds in state returns were going to be late. The NCDOR began processing 2021 tax returns the week of March 1, which was delayed by the state budget process. A late start means a delayed finish and a backup on returns.

But there are no delays in filing, so that means you must you have to file electronically before midnight on April 19 or have your mailed return postmarked by April 18. Before e-filing became the preferred method, those postmarks often would lead to traffic backups at drop boxes just before midnight.

You also have the option of filing an extension – there’s a form for that – and if you get an extension for your federal return, North Carolina automatically gives you a few more months, too.

NCDOR, though, says you can get a state delay regardless of whether you asked the IRS for a break or not. But you have to file Form D-410 by midnight on April 18 and – this is the part most people don’t realize – pay what you think you owe.

If you don’t meet that deadline and pay at least 90% of what you owe, you will be charged late fees and interest.

Need to know more? Visit www.ncdor.gov