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In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, when both the federal and New Jersey tax filing deadlines were pushed back three months, July 15 must have seemed light years away.

That's no longer the case, and the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants is reminding Garden State residents of what they must do within the next few weeks.

At the state level, tax returns received by the standard April 15 deadline equated to about 72% of the total received in 2019, according to statistics provided to New Jersey 101.5 by the state Department of the Treasury.

That means there could be more than a million tax filers statewide whose paperwork is still outstanding, and nothing has changed relative to the amount they must pay — only the date by which they need to do so.

"If you're not in a position to file your tax returns, you should file an extension, but you must also pay any estimated tax liability that you are due," Ralph Albert Thomas, NJCPA CEO and executive director, said, adding that "when a person is filing an extension, they must pay at least 80% of any owed taxes."

For those who have a liability, they must file an estimate or be subject to penalties and interest, Thomas said. Penalties are likewise applicable to those who are granted an extension, but pay less than the 80% threshold.

However, Thomas said New Jerseyans must be patient about the processing of their returns. Just like taxpayers across the country have been asked to do, IRS workers have been stationed at home for the last three months, which naturally could lead to delays.

"There's additional time that is being taken," Thomas said. "Normally if you filed your tax returns early, you would have heard something by now."

Thomas suggested that anyone with questions about this year's elongated tax filing process visit the websites of either the IRS or the state Treasury.

"Sometimes when they're at the eleventh hour, they just feel frazzled, and those are two resources that they can go to," he said.

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