Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Didn't Finish Your Taxes? Here's How To Get an Extension

Taxes are due today -- Tuesday, April 17.

But if you aren't ready to file, don't freak -- you can get an easy, automatic six-month extension, courtesy of the IRS. You just pay what you guestimate you owe, and avoid all late-filing and late-payment penalties. Then you get till October 15 to find all that missing paperwork and do it right.

Anyone and everyone can get an extension. Even Mitt Romney filed an extension!

One way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov.  (Select "browse the list" from Step 2 and look for "free extensions.") This connects you to private company that will allow you to file an extension online. (There is an $57,000 income limit for free service.)

Or you can just print out Form 4868, fill it in (it takes 30 seconds tops to fill in) and mail it in today with at least $1 (check or money order). The form tells you where to mail it. Filing this form gives you until Oct. 15 to file an actual return.

By filing this tiny form, you will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally five percent per month based on the unpaid balance. In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties.

Some taxpayers get more time to file without having to ask for it. These include:

* Taxpayers abroad. U.S. citizens and resident aliens who live and work abroad, as well as members of the military on duty outside the U.S., have until June 15 to file and pay. However, interest is still due on any tax payment made after April 17.

* Members of the military and others serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities. Typically, taxpayers can wait until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file returns and pay any taxes due.

* People affected by certain tornadoes, severe storms, floods and other recent natural disasters. Currently, parts of Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia are covered by federal disaster declarations, and affected individuals and businesses in these areas have until May 31 to file and pay.

More at IRS.gov

Photo by John Morgan, Creative Commons license

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