Haven’t Filed Your Tax Return? Then This Is for You

Tax time stressThe federal tax deadline is just around the corner.

Need more time? No problem. You can get an automatic extension from Uncle Sam by filing Form 4868 by the April 15 deadline.

This will give you until Oct. 15 to file your return. The form is only seven lines – half of which are your name, address and Social Security number. However, it does require you to estimate your tax liability.

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And you must pay those taxes by April 15. Otherwise you’ll owe interest on the unpaid amount plus a late payment penalty. Form 4868 only gives you more time to file a return – not more time to pay. (States also allow extensions, but check the rules with your home state.)

Even if you’re due a federal refund but won’t be able to finish your return on time, you still should file Form 4868 to get the extension, according to the American Institute of CPAs. Of course, you won’t get your money until you file your return. In this case, you have three years to do so, but why wait?

There are a few ways to file Form 4868. You can do it by downloading the form from the IRS website and mailing it in by April 15. Or you can file the form online using the IRS Free File. (To file a federal return on FreeFile, though, your income must be below $60,000.)

Or, if you will owe money, you can pay the estimated tax and file for an extension simultaneously through the IRS website – the first year taxpayers are able to do this, according to IRS spokesman Eric Smith. Go to irs.gov/directpay, click on “make a payment” and then elect to apply that payment to “4868.” The money will be automatically withdrawn from your bank account, Smith says. There are no IRS fees for this service.

Those who can’t come up with the money to pay their taxes can request an installment plan. Under the plan, taxpayers who owe up to $50,000 have six years to pay it, Smith says. You can set up an installment plan online even if you haven’t yet filed a return. You’ll pay interest and a late penalty, as well as a fee that is sometimes reduced or waived, Smith says.

And those in serious financial hardship might consider an “offer in compromise,” in which the IRS may accept less than it’s owed. The IRS says it grants these when it appears that it won’t be able to collect the tax due in a “reasonable amount of time.”

And if all of this is creating a lot of stress, you can relax with a free massage from HydroMassage from April 13 to April 17 at locations across the country. This is the seventh year that the Florida-based maker of massage beds has offered free massages. More than a half million people have taken advantage of it. The company recommends you confirm locations and schedule a time for the free massage.

Or another way to chill out on tax day is with a free cup of tropical shaved ice and Hawaiian lei from Kona Ice. The retailer’s trucks will be parked outside post offices, tax preparation centers and elsewhere around the country to deliver the goods. Tweet @konaice to find the location near you.

Photo: Wendellandcarolyn/iStock

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