Still Haven't Filed Your Taxes? What to Do

Millions Will File for Tax Extensions This Year; So Can You

ByABC News
April 13, 2010, 4:02 PM

April 14, 2010 — -- It's that time again: the deadline to file income tax returns is less than 48 hours away and the Internal Revenue Service is predicting that some 10 million Americans won't file their returns on time.

But that doesn't mean they're deadbeats -- these taxpayers, the IRS said, will be filing requests for extensions on their returns, and so can you through the IRS's Web site.

An extension allows taxpayers another six months -- until Oct. 15 -- to prepare their returns, but late filer beware: If you expect you'll owe the government money, the IRS still will want its check in the mail by tomorrow. A tax return extension typically allows you more time to do your paperwork, not more time to pay.

Victims of the recent East Coast storms, however, will get special accommodations this year: Americans living in areas recently declared federal disaster areas -- specific counties in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and West Virginia -- are automatically entitled to an extension that allows them to file their returns and make their payments until May 11. (For a breakdown of qualifying counties, click here.)

Those filing for extensions outside federal disaster areas, meanwhile, face the formidable task of estimating their tax payments while the clock is ticking. So how do you do it?

Tom Ochsenschlager, the vice president of taxation for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and Melissa Labant, the association's tax technical manager, said if you're really pressed for time, here's one quick strategy to follow:

1. Subtract the standard deduction -- $11,400 for married couples filing jointly and $5,700 for singles -- from your gross income.

2. Multiply that number by the highest marginal tax rate (35 percent).

3. Subtract from it the amount of income taxes already withheld through your employer (a total available on the W2 form provided by your employer.)