Cope with a Tax Crunch

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Tax day may be delayed until April 18th this year, but millions of Americans still won’t file on time, studies show.

If you can predict that you’re going to be late (again) this year—if you lack the time or info to do your taxes, or if you don’t have the cash to pay your bill—don’t ignore the deadline.

Even in a crunch, you have options:

  • If you’re pressed for time…

    File Form 4868 by April 18 to get an extension until October 17. If you owe anything, pay as much as you can by the 18th—otherwise you could get hit with a penalty, and the IRS will charge you interest.

    Expecting a refund? You won’t get it until you file your return.

  • If you owe money…

    Call 1-800-829-1040 to ask the IRS for a 120-day extension to pay your bill. If that’s not enough, the IRS might agree to an installment plan if you file Form 9465. If you owe less than $25,000 you can apply for an Online Payment Agreement at

But beware: The IRS charges between $43 and $105 to set up an installment plan—depending on your income, and payment method—and they still charge interest and penalties on the amount you owe, even as you pay it back.

It might be cheaper to pay your bill in full, now, if you can. Just avoid going into debt to pay debt.

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