Can’t Get Your Taxes Done by April 18?

Can't pay taxes on time, can't file taxes on timeIf you panic when you think about April 18, it’s probably due to one of two reasons:

1. You don’t have enough time to get your taxes done and filed on time, or

2. You don’t have enough money to pay the taxes you owe.

If either of these applies to you, the most important thing to remember is, DON’T PANIC. And don’t ignore it. The worst thing you can do is not file at all.

Extending the time to file your taxes:

If time is the issue, you can file an extension that will give you six more months to file your taxes. Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File US Individual Income Tax Return, must be filed by midnight April 18 and can be done on paper (get a printable copy of Form 4868 here) and mailed, or filed electronically at the IRS Free File site.  DIY tax programs like Turbo Tax also have extension applications built in to them.

It is important to know that filing an extension is only extending the time you have to file your return. IT IS NOT AN EXTENSION OF TIME TO PAY. If you think you will owe additional tax, you need to estimate what you will owe and include that amount with your extension application. Any amount owed that is not paid by April 15 will be subject to interest and possibly penalties for not paying on time. You can mail a check with your paper extension or pay online at

If you requested an extension to file your individual income tax return and paid at least 90 percent of the taxes you owe with your request, you may not face a late payment penalty. However, you must pay any remaining balance by the extended due date.

What to do if you can’t pay:

If you don’t have the money to pay your tax debt on time, don’t file an extension. Instead, file your tax return on time and pay as much as you can, even if it is a small portion of the taxes you owe. According to the IRS, by doing this you will avoid a late filing penalty, which is higher than the penalty for not paying all of the taxes you owe on time.

Once you have filed, go to to learn more about payment options. The IRS offers online payment agreements, installment plans, and exceptions for people with financial hardships. Just remember, DON’T IGNORE IT. Things will only get worse if you don’t file on time, and the IRS really is willing to work with you to get your tax debt paid.

Find out more about late filing and payments here.

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