Tax Extensions: Not An Urban Legend, And Still Possible

04/22/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

That ticking noise you hear? It's the countdown for filing your 2007 tax return, which is due by end of the day Tuesday.

However, if you're like millions of other Americans, you're probably not going to make that deadline, reports ABC News.

The Internal Revenue Service expects that 10.3 million people will request extensions on their returns -- that's up 300,000 from last year.

Everyone is eligible for an extension, which allows taxpayers six more months -- until Oct. 15 -- to file returns. Requesting an extension won't make it any more likely that you'll be audited later on.

The bad news? Like tax returns, extension requests are also due April 15, and filing one doesn't mean you get more time to pay your taxes. It just means you get more time to finish your paperwork. Taxpayers filing requests -- be it for complex financial reasons or just plain laziness -- must still estimate roughly how much they owe the IRS (if anything) and send a check for that amount by April 15. If your estimate is too low, you risk facing stiff fees and penalties.

Adds the US News & World Report, extensions are actually pretty easy to come by:

Extensions are given liberally. The standard way is to file Form 4868, which can be done by mail, electronically with tax software or through an online service, or by phone if you owe tax and will make a payment by credit card with the extension request.

For those living in flood disaster areas, fear not: the IRS feels your pain. Notes St. Louis' local Fox Station:

The IRS is extending their deadline for taxpayers residing or having a business in areas declared a disaster area by the President. Taxpayers not covered in the affected area but whose books, records or tax professionals' offices are located in the disaster area are also entitled to relief. The IRS will automatically identify taxpayers located in the covered disaster area and apply automatic filing and payment relief.

The extension applies to return filing, tax payment, and certain other time-sensitive acts that otherwise were due between March 17 and May 19. The filings include most tax returns (individual, corporate, and estate and trust income tax returns, partnership returns, S corporation returns, and trust returns; estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax returns; and employment and certain excise tax returns) and tax payments, including estimated tax payments, that have either an original or extended due date falling on or after March 17, 2008 and on or before May 19, 2008.

Finally, check out Associated Content's 6 tips for filing a tax extension.