MONEY

How To File A Tax Extension

Apr 13, 2012

Worried you won't get your taxes done in time? Here's some good news: you can file an automatic six-month extension with the IRS and receive no late penalties.

Here's how.

Fill out this form and submit it to the IRS on or before Tuesday, April 17. If you're filing the form electronically, it must be submitted by midnight on Tuesday. If you're mailing it in, it must be postmarked April 17. (Note: many post offices will not extend their hours on tax day this year).

Failure-to-file anything will cost you: You'll be charged 5 percent of your unpaid taxes every month that your return is late, up to 25 percent, with a minimum penalty of $135. You might not owe the penalty if you have a reasonable explanation for filing late, according to the IRS. The agency asks that you attach a statement to your return fully explaining the reason.

The failure-to-file penalty is harsher than the failure-to-pay penalty, so if you're short on cash, the best thing to do is file on time (completed tax forms or an extension) and pay as much as you can.

Taxes owed are still due on April 17, extension or not. Late payments will be charged 0.5 percent of unpaid taxes per month, plus interest, which is currently 3 percent per year, explains this Reuters article.

If you need help finding the cash to pay up, the IRS offers hardship breaks and installment plans to lighten your load. These options are explained here.

More last-minute tips for last-minute filers: Listen to our favorite taxpayer tunes, get organized, and check out this infographic that answers all of your last-minute filing questions.

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