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As Deadline Looms, How to File a Tax Extension

Can't make Tuesday's tax-filing deadline? Request an automatic six-month extension.

The filing deadline for 2011 tax returns is Tuesday. Not enough time? People can request an automatic six-month tax-filing extension; however, they must still pay their estimated taxes by Tuesday, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

To request an extension, taxpayers should submit Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to the IRS) by Tuesday, according to the IRS. Paper forms must be postmarked by Tuesday, while e-file extension requests must be made by midnight Tuesday. Extension requests filed online through tax preparation software or the IRS website must be made by midnight Tuesday.

Taxpayers who have filed for an extension and want to make an electronic credit card payment should see Form 4868. People can also pay estimated taxes via an electronic funds withdrawal from a checking or savings account, according to the IRS. For more information, visit IRS.gov.

Nevertheless, the IRS does recommend that people who have completed their returns but can't pay file their returns on time and pay as much as they can. Payment plans are available; to apply, taxpayers should use the Online Payment Agreement application at IRS.gov or send Form 9465 (Installment Agreement Request) when they file their returns. Those unable to make payments should call the IRS at 800-829-1040 to discuss their options.

There are a few groups of people who aren't bound by Tuesday's filing deadline.
Active-duty members of the military who are stationed outside the U.S., as well as U.S. citizens and resident aliens living and working abroad, don't have to file and pay until June 15; however, the IRS will still collect interest on payments made after Tuesday.

Additionally, members of the military who are serving in a combat zone, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, can usually wait about 6 months after they leave the combat zone to file their returns and pay taxes, according to the IRS.

People in parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee and West Virginia who were affected by natural disasters over the past year have until May 31 to file and pay.

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