Tax Extensions Give You More Time to File, Not More Time to Pay

Taxes are due, if you don't think you'll be ready, here's what you can do now.

Monday is the day for taxpayers to come to terms with the Internal Revenue Service.

But what if you realize now that you won't be able to—or just don't want to—have your taxes done by the April 18 deadline? Unlike, say, your high school geometry teacher, the IRS will simply give you more time to get that homework in—six months more, in fact.

But, of course, there's a catch: The IRS wants the answers to your homework now, not later.


The extension gives taxpayers more time to get their paperwork together—collect documentation, receipts, etc.—but not more time to pay what they owe. So if you think you owe money to the IRS, you still have to cut them a check by April 18 (this year's deadline due to a District of Columbia holiday) or you will owe penalties and fees.

About 10 million people take the extension each year—about 1.5 million of those in California—and the IRS processed 142 million individual returns last year, said Raphael Tulino, a spokesman for the IRS. About 30 percent of all returns are filed in April, Tulino said.

For your federal taxes, you will need to file Form 4868 to get the extension (attached in the gallery). The state of California, on the other hand, gives all taxpayers an automatic filing extension. But again, the taxes you owe California are still due on April 18. The state's Franchise Tax Board has form FTB 3519 to help you figure out what you owe (attached to this story in the gallery and available here).

Also, take note that the extension only gives you until Monday, Oct. 17 to get your paperwork in for both federal and state taxes. The extra six month-countdown starts on the regular deadline of April 15, not this year's special deadline. Since Oct. 15 falls on a Saturday this year, the deadline is the following Monday—Oct. 17, a spokesman for the California Franchise Tax Board said.

If you don't owe taxes, you have three years to file and collect a refund. If you didn't file in 2007, this year's tax deadline is .

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