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Procrastinators unite! Form 4868 gives you extra time to file

There's not much time left before Tax Day. In fact, as of this writing, you have four days left until your tax return has to be in the mail to the Internal Revenue Service. However, what happens if you aren't ready for the April 15 deadline? What if you lost some crucial tax documents, or what if your W-2s were never mailed to you? What if you have a complicated tax situation that simply doesn't get completed before April 15?

These types of situations happen every year to millions of people, and many millions more simply procrastinate to the point that they don't have enough time to file their tax return in time. The late fees associated with late returns are pricey, usually running at about 5 percent per month of whatever your balance is. It can add up quickly, and the late return can make you susceptible to action by the IRS.

But there are contingency plans for people who don't have enough time to file their tax return. After all, we're human. We make mistakes, and the IRS knows that. They couldn't possibly expect every taxpayer to get their return in on time. It's not a realistic expectation. So for those needing some extra time on their taxes, there is Form 4868.

Form 4868 gives the filer an extra six months to send in his or her tax return. You don't need to give a reason -- you simply have to fill out the form and mail it by April 15.

There is one caveat: if you owe the IRS, you should still pay them before April 15. You may not know the exact amount, but you should pay them your best guess. If you don't, you will be penalized even if you file Form 4868.

Source: New York Times, "Running Late? Push Federal Tax Day Back to October," Ann Carrns, April 1, 2014

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