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Need More Time?

You can push the deadline for filing your tax return back to October 15.

Time is getting short for working on your tax return ... if you're going to make the April 15 deadline. If that seems hopeless, perhaps you should simply admit defeat and ask for more time. You can push the deadline back to October 15 just by asking the IRS for an extension.

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In the misery loves company realm, get this: The IRS expects at least 8 million of your fellow sufferers to ask for more time.

In the past, the Form 4868 by midnight April 15 automatically pushes your deadline back to October 15.

You can download it from the IRS Web site. If you use tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax, you can file the form electronically from your home computer.

Although the extension gives you more time to complete your return, it doesn't put off the deadline for paying your taxes. If you owe Uncle Sam, you're supposed to pay when you ask for the extension -- not when you file late. If you don't pay your entire tax bill on time, you'll be hit with a penalty.

The late filing penalty is 5% of the amount due with the return for each month you're late filing. If you owe $500 and file between April 16 and May 15, for example, the penalty would be $25. If you're more than two months late, the minimum penalty is $100 or 100% of the tax due, whichever is less.You also can be hit with a late-payment penalty of one-half of 1% of what you owe for each month you're late, plus you'll be charged interest on the late payment. The rate, as of April 1, is 6%.

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Because most taxpayers get refunds, they don't have to worry about sending in money when they ask for an extension, as millions of taxpayers and their accountants do each spring.

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