Tax Deadline: How To File For A Tax Return Extension

  @ZoeMintzz.mintz@ibtimes.com on April 13 2013 1:49 PM
Tax Return 2013
A 2012 tax guide for individuals issued by the Internal Revenue Service is seen in New York March 18, 2013. Reuters

It’s tax time, and for some it’s crunch time.

If this year is like most others, approximately 50 million Americans have waited until the last minute to file their federal income tax returns before the April 15 deadline.

For those of you who need extra time and want to assess your options, here are three answers to common tax questions that will help keep you on Uncle Sam’s good side.

Can I get an extension?

Most likely, the answer is yes. An extension request filed by Monday, April 15, at midnight can give taxpayers until Oct. 15 to get their tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. Form 4868 can be filled out on the IRS website or through tax preparation services like TurboTax. Several companies can file the request for free if the applicant qualifies for the IRS Free File Program

But extending the filing deadline to Oct. 15 does not alleviate the taxpayer from paying the taxes that are due, Bob Meighan, CPA for the American Tax and Financial Center at TurboTax, told "CBS this Morning."

What happens if I can’t pay my taxes that are due on April 15?

If you can’t pay the entire amount, pay what you can and apply for an installment plan with the IRS on its website.

An installment plan can run you 6 percent a year. The application can cost anywhere between $43 and $105, and you can pay the amount you own in monthly installments.

Failure to pay by the Monday deadline will result in interest and penalty charges -- a monthly penalty of 0.5 percent on the balance owed, plus interest of 3 percent per year, compounded daily.

If you miss the deadline and don’t file an extension request, you’ll receive a penalty of 5 percent of the tax owed for each month the tax return is late.

What about my refund?

Good news. If you’re owed a refund, then you don't need to file for an extension.

"The extension, for the most part, is for folks who owe taxes and need to gather their paperwork," Anabel Marquez, a spokeswoman for the IRS, told the Detroit Free Press. "There won't be any penalties for not filing if a refund is owed."

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