Don't worry if you can't make the April 15 deadline to file your federal taxes. You can ask for an automatic six-month extension from the Internal Revenue Service.
By filing an extension, you will avoid stiff penalties for not filing your federal tax returns by the April 15 deadline. But you will need to complete a Form 4868 by April 15, mail it in or complete it online at Free File on IRS's website.
"I recommend using an e-file system to speed up this process and make it as timely and efficient as possible," said David Hryck, a tax lawyer with Reed Smith in New York City.
In order to file an extension, you will need your name and address, your Social Security number, an estimated tax liability and the amount you're paying with the extension. Filling out Form 4868 gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return.
"The worst thing you could do is not do anything," said Stephen Henley, national tax practice leader at CBIZ MHM.
The late-filing penalty can be up to 10 times more than the late-payment penalty. The late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month your return is late, up to a maximum of 25 percent. The late payment penalty is 0.5 percent of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25 percent.