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If you’re worried you won’t be able to pay your income taxes by this year’s April 17 filing date, don’t panic; but don’t ignore the deadline and certainly don’t wait for the IRS to reach out to you first. Acting quickly not only gives you more repayment options, it can also significantly lower penalties you might owe the government.
By not filing your 2011 federal tax return or asking for an extension by April 17, 2012, the penalty on any taxes you owe increases dramatically – usually an additional 5 percent of taxes owed for each full or partial month you’re late, plus interest, up to a maximum penalty of 25 percent. But file your return/extension on time and the penalty drops tenfold to 0.5 percent.
Eventually, the IRS could even place a tax lien on your assets and future earnings.
The IRS recently announced that it’s offering a six-month grace period for failure-to-pay penalties for certain wage earners who have experienced long periods of unemployment, or, if self-employed, experienced a 25 percent or greater reduction in business income in 2011 due to the economy. Here’s how it works:
• You must have been unemployed for 30 consecutive days or longer in 2011 (or in 2012 up through April 17).
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