Can you get an extension to file your tax return? Yes. Can you delay payment of any taxes due? No.
Nearly 9 million taxpayers are expected to request four-month filing extensions, but the reprieves offered by the Internal Revenue Service don't include taxes owed, which still must be posted on April 15 to avoid penalties.
Automatic extensions can be done with a phone call, a few mouse clicks or a single piece of paper, the Associated Press reported. When requesting an extension, taxpayers must estimate taxes due and include the a check or authorize an electronic bank withdrawal. The extension will be voided if the IRS finds the estimate to be unreasonable, the AP reported.
The extension form is short, but like all tax forms it can be deceptive, Kathy Burlison, director of tax implementation at H&R Block, told the AP. To figure out what you owe, most taxpayers have to do most of their return anyway.
"By the time you do the work to figure out the information on the extension, you might as well do your taxes," she said.
It's expected that 40 million taxpayers will decide to go for it this week to meet the tax deadline, the IRS said. But tax professionals caution that simple mistakes can slow a refund or cause a return to be rejected.
"Sit down and take another good look at it, from a checking point of view, and you'll avoid lots of delays," Michael Lister, chief executive officer of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, told the AP. "You don't have to feel bad about it because you're in a lot of good company. The key is just not to panic."
One extension is automatically granted to any taxpayer who asks for it. Subsequent extensions must be accompanied by a good explanation, the AP reported. To request an extension, complete Form 4868 and mailing it to the IRS by the same April 15 deadline as tax returns.
Anyone who filed a return last year can use the form as a worksheet and request the extension by telephone using a special toll-free line - 1-888-796-1074.