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Can't file taxes by April 15? You don't have to

The IRS will grant an automatic extension to anyone who asks. But you still have to estimate what you owe and send the money.

By MSN Money Partner Apr 10, 2013 11:49AM

This post is by Laura Saunders of The Wall Street Journal.


© Tetra Images, Tetra images, Getty ImagesFor taxpayers who can't manage the April 15 deadline, the Internal Revenue Service offers an automatic six-month filing extension. This year the due date is Oct. 15, and taxpayers qualify by filing Form 4868.


Getting an extension is preferable to filing a return with mistakes, says Melissa Labant, a tax specialist with the American Institute of CPAs. "If you have already filed, then you will need to amend the return, which is often more trouble," she says.


Remember that an extension to file isn't an extension to pay. Uncle Sam wants 100% of the total tax by the April due date, or interest and perhaps a late-payment penalty will be due.


Here are common reasons to seek an extension.


Incomplete records, especially for investments or a closely held business. A sore point with many tax preparers is that brokers sometimes issue multiple Form 1099s reporting investment tax information.

Lack of a letter confirming a charitable contribution. The law is clear: Taxpayers must have proper notification from a charity before deducting a donation. "Get that letter before you file," Labant says.


Roth IRA reversal. Taxpayers who converted all or part of a regular IRA to a Roth account have until the October due date the following year to undo the conversion, which is taxable. That might be a good idea if assets in the Roth account have fallen in value since the conversion.


Roth IRA owners who file in April can amend their returns before Oct. 15 to undo last year's conversion, but filing for an extension is often the easier route.


You are traveling, or it is your busy season. Harried tax preparers often file extensions for their own returns.


More from The Wall Street Journal and MSN Money:


Apr 10, 2013 4:04PM
Thanks to congress the IRS is late with the tax rules for 2012 taxes but still want their money on time. There will be a lot of tax payers who will be hit with interest and penalty's through no fault of their own.
Apr 15, 2013 8:47AM
If illegals can ignore our immigration laws why can't we ignore taxes??
Apr 10, 2013 4:03PM
Another non-article, filler for content-hungry websites with nothing to say.
Apr 15, 2013 6:01AM
This is not new. However; if you owe taxes you must pay all of the taxes due by April 15 even if you get the extension. In my opinion it is a waste because if you can do enough to figure our how much you owe, then you have completed enough to send it in.
Apr 10, 2013 3:55PM
Apr 12, 2013 7:09AM
As a tax preparer, we love extensions. However, the concept that you still have to estimate what you owe and pay it by April 15th is usually lost with taxpayers.
Apr 15, 2013 8:09AM

We should all file no return as a protest until May.  Our tax system is indeed unfair.


"The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per­cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax."


"The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab."



"Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. "


So the people that have ridiculed others all through school for actually learning and thus getting better pay because they're actually able to read get a free pass?  The bottom half  takes home most of their pay.  How is this fair?  I'm fairly certain that this only seems fair if you're in that group.  How can someone who failed to prepare himself for life and thus got a job paying minimum wage, complain that paying a fair percentage to taxes is unfair?  Bogus logic.



We need to implement a "Fair Tax"  Look it up.

Apr 15, 2013 8:59AM
And if we all just didn't pay.
What could they do.
Apr 15, 2013 8:46AM
If you know you're getting a can file later with no penalties.   Sure takes the stress of filing by 4-15 out of the picture.   However, be sure you're receiving a refund........government fees and interest for late filing are high.
Apr 15, 2013 9:46AM

Why is it the government wants our tax money rite away.maybe we should charge them interest waiting for our refunds.

Apr 15, 2013 3:42AM
"Lack of a letter confirming a charitable contribution. The law is clear: Taxpayers must have proper notification from a charity before deducting a donation. "Get that letter before you file," Labant says."

Actually, get the letter when you make the donations, or you probably can't get a letter at all. Furthermore, don't act like you don't know you're going to have to file a tax return--it's not like it's a surprise.
Apr 15, 2013 9:06AM

Good information for "new" taxpayers.  Everyone had to  learn these helpful facts at some point!


Apr 10, 2013 4:01PM
Keywords: "estimate what you owe and SEND THE MONEY!  Dam 'em!  Not the IRS.  They are peeons doing the dirty work for CONgress.  The IRS are the forefront 'deskclerks' who get fussed at and hear the rude remarks.  They are there for one reason, to get "the money!"  I would love to see a responsible country come over and install a responsible government in Bullymerica.  We don't have Bush's wars paid off yet and Obama and Klan are harassing North Korea.   We cannot afford another war.  I think they are using this as a reason to spend wildly again.  Then, cut SS more.  They are taking from the old, the feeble, the weak, and the infirm and giving "aid" to countries that hate us.  OH, Pakistan got the nukes now!!!!  And, they threaen India!  CONgress, is you gonna fite dem too??? No, you isn't.  YOu aint fiten nobody unless it it the old people, the weak, the infirm.  YOu buncha Cowards!!!
Apr 15, 2013 7:39AM
Actually, I believe it is 90% of the total tax due

Apr 15, 2013 9:39AM
Can anyone confirm if this is true. 

Apr 15, 2013 10:58AM
Income tax is a violation of our constitutional rights. Hillary Clinton promised to abolish income tax if elected. Naturally, Obama had to rush the stage. Now things are worse than ever. Oh, and yes, we are still being harassed by income tax. Some things just do not change. Yet, we can only live in hope. One day we will be free.
Apr 15, 2013 12:33PM
If you make money you can pay a higher tax rate than the less fortunate. Makes sense, but this also discourages people to start a business that would create jobs, since they would have to pay more taxes, & it encourages people to not work & apply for welfare since they don't have to pay taxes. 

If you do not pay your taxes you can go to jail therefore your a criminal. How is this different from a mafia?
Also if the U.S. goes to war with North Korea you will see your tax dollars spent in that war, encouraging the tax rate to increase
Apr 15, 2013 12:13PM

The top ten percent use well more than 68% of the resources of this country. Natural resources, human resources, monetory resources, political capital resources, and list goes on. The truth is, money talks; and with Citizens United, money talks more than ever. the wealthy of this country are steering this country right now and they are heading us for a cliff. If you are a Tea Partyer, you are a puppet for the Koch brothers and their rich friends. I know many of you will blow me off and say "That's not true". I dare you to investigate.

So you say we should pay less taxes and shrink government and we will be more free. Well, look around the world at the countries with less government. They are not more free. In fact they are less free and the rich and the powerful are the ones running their lives. Government is an equalizer. It should be an advocate for the little guy. Do have a perfect government? No! That's why we all need to get more involved in politics and voting and do our research. We need to listen to several sides of an issue before we decide.

Apr 15, 2013 4:39PM
How can it be "automatic", if you have to" file a request" for an extension? 
Apr 15, 2013 12:36PM
Why isn't it mentioned that if you get a refund that you don't have to file AT ALL?
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