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Can’t File by April 17? Don’t Panic
There are options for taxpayers who are unable to file their returns or pay their taxes by the April 17 deadline. Extensions are a common means of giving a taxpayer more time to file. Although an extension does not absolve you from paying your taxes, there are payment plans and other forms of relief available to those who cannot pay their tax bill in full.
The IRS recently initiated its Fresh Start program, which provides penalty relief for unemployed taxpayers and self-employed individuals whose income has dropped.
Taxpayers can avoid a penalty by filing their returns by April 17, 2012, even if they cannot pay the full amount due. Taxpayers who are unable to file by that date can obtain an automatic six-month extension by filing Form 4868. Filing this form allows the taxpayer to file a return as late as October 15, 2012.
Some taxpayers do not need to request an extension, including those who live and work abroad, and members of the military on duty outside the U.S. In addition, military personnel who are serving in combat zones such as Afghanistan or Iraq, can wait until 180 days after they leave the combat zone to file and pay taxes. The IRS also offers relief in the case of natural disasters, such as tornadoes or floods.
Electronic payment is available, including the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), electronic funds withdrawal, and payment by credit or debit card.
The IRS also notes that taxpayers who choose to pay by check or money order should:
- Make the payment out to United States Treasury
- Write “2011 Form 1040” along with your name, address, daytime phone number, and Social Security number on the front of the check or money order
- Include a Form 1040-V payment voucher to help ensure that the payment is promptly credited
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