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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can’t make the tax deadline? File for an extension, says IRS

Taxpayers who can’t meet the April 17 tax deadline can get an automatic six-month extension, via the Free File link on, which is used to electronically request an automatic extension on Form 4868.

Filing this form gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file a return.

The IRS says taxpayers must estimate their tax liability on this form and pay any amount due.

Properly filing Form 4868 avoids the penalty, normally 5 percent per month based on the unpaid balance, which applies to returns filed after the deadline.

Besides using Free File, taxpayers can choose to request an extension through a paid tax preparer, using tax-preparation software or by filing a paper Form 4868, available on

Of the 10.5 million extension forms received by the IRS last year, about 4 million were filed electronically.

Some taxpayers get more time to file without having to ask for it, including members of the military on duty outside the U.S., or serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zones.

April 17 is also the deadline for claiming a refund from your 2008 taxes.

The IRS says 4,300 New Hampshire taxpayers who failed to file an income tax return for 2008 are missing out on approximately $4.5 million in unclaimed refunds. To collect the money, they must file their 2008 returns with the IRS no later than April 17, 2012.

When a return is not filed, the law provides taxpayers with just a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund.

The IRS also cautions New Hampshire taxpayers to watch out for scams, often via email sent out with the IRS name and logo.

“The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers about their accounts through email, text messages or other social media,” said Peggy Riley, IRS spokeswoman. “Anyone who receives an unsolicited email claiming to come from the IRS should avoid opening any attachments or clicking on any links.”

People can report suspicious emails they receive that claim to come from the IRS to a mailbox set up for this purpose,