Last Chance To Pay Your Taxes...Or Is It?

The IRS is offering extensions, provided you pay your estimated taxes up front.

Were you—like a certain editor—one of the suckers who thought they had to spend a nice chunk of Saturday doing their taxes in anticipation of Sunday, April 15? Too bad for us—I mean, you. Turns out Tax Day is on a Tuesday this year, specifically this Tuesday, April 17.

While the IRS says they get around one quarter of all tax returns in the last few weeks leading up to tax day, there may still be one or two among you who didn't have time, procrastinated too much, or just forgot. For you lucky few, the Internal Revenue Service offers free extensions

The magic number? 4868. Form 4868, to be precise. Here's the skinny, from an IRS email announcement:

To get the extra time to file, taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on Form 4868 and should pay any amount due by the April 17 deadline. Taxpayers can e-pay what they owe using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), by electronic funds withdrawal or with a credit or debit card. Those who pay by check or money order should make the payment to the “United States Treasury.”

By filing a return or properly filing Form 4868, a taxpayer will avoid the late-filing penalty, normally five percent per month based on the unpaid balance, which applies to returns filed after the deadline. In addition, any payment made with an extension request will reduce or eliminate interest and late-payment penalties that apply to payments made after April 17. The current interest rate is three percent per year, compounded daily, and the late-payment penalty is normally 0.5 percent per month. The maximum rate for both penalties is 25 percent.

According to the IRS, around 143,000 Minnesotans take advantage of this tool (deployed military personnel, the IRS says, automatically get a reprieve without having to ask). So much for that stereotype of the punctual, proper, sober Scandinavian.


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