If you owe the government money, today is pay-up day. You could get a save if you file an IRS Form 4868, which allows a six-month extension.
But, this is not a get out of tax day free card. A person using this form must estimate their tax liability and send any balance due – if you cover at least 90 percent of the tax bill, there will be no penalty for filing late. If you come up short, you will pay a fine.
“What people don’t realize, truly, an extension for filing a return is not an extension for paying your taxes,” said Judy Kaltenbacher, partner in charge of the tax department at Stockman Kast Ryan + Co. in Colorado Springs. “People think, ‘if I file an extension, I don’t have to pay taxes.’ ”
Kaltenbacher has clients who are filing extensions today. They typically are involved in multiple partnerships or S corporations and are waiting on information to complete the filing.
Others might not have such a good excuse.
“I was watching the news this morning, and there were people who were saying they got their W-2s back in February but just didn’t want to do their taxes,” she said.
Extensions are easy if the government owes you money, she said. But, they can be more difficult if the tax filer is expecting to pay and is trying to estimate what that tax bill might be. Some people who struggle are those who are self-employed and had to make first-quarter estimates. Form 4868 gives the filer until Oct. 15 to complete and send in the return.
“There is definitely time to do an extension,” Kaltenbacher said. “People who do their own taxes, they are the ones who will likely file the extension.”
And, if a person has waited until today to file their tax returns, they might consider the extension, she said.
“It’s too easy to make mistakes when rushing through,” she said.
There are options too for those who cannot pay. The filer can request an installment plan.
“You have to apply and the IRS has to decide if they will approve the agreement,” Kaltenbacher said.
But, there is a fee.