This year might just be a tax procrastinator's dream. You know the feeling. The deadline to file your taxes is almost here and you fear you'll never get your paperwork ready on time, right? Don't panic.

You have several things working in your favor this year.

First, you get three extra days to gather your paperwork and file your federal tax return; this year the tax deadline is April 18.

You can thank Washington, D.C., for this extra time because the District of Columbia will celebrate Emancipation Day on April 15. It's the day President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a bill ending slavery in Washington, D.C. and is typically celebrated on the 16th.

April 16 falls on a Saturday, so Emancipation Day will be celebrated on April 15, pushing back Tax Day to April 18. Got it?

All you need to know is that you get 3 more days to file your taxes this year.

If that's still not enough time, you can file for an extension. That's the good news. Filing a tax extension, however, does NOT mean that you receive an extension on taxes owed. You will need to estimate how much tax you owe and include the payment with your extension form.

If you don't pay your tax bill by the deadline, you can incur penalties and interest charges, significantly inflating your overall balance.

Ways to Request an Automatic 6-Month Extension:

1. You can file Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) electronically through a tax professional who uses e-file or via home software.

2. You can pay your estimate of income tax due using a credit or debit card.

If you owe tax, there are many options available. You can pay:

  • By check or money order.
  • Pay by Credit Card by calling or visiting the website of an approved service provider.
  • Request an Installment Agreement and pay off your outstanding balance in monthly payments.
  • The IRS has just announced new options for those who need to pay their taxes with cash (who don't have a bank account or credit card). Visit the payments page for more options.

Additional Time to Pay

You also have the option to file a short-term payment extension as well, which gives you an additional 120 days to pay your balance. You make this request using using the Online Payment Agreement application on www.irs.gov.

Taxpayers who request and are granted this additional time will generally will pay less in penalties and interest than if the debt were repaid through an installment agreement over a greater period of time.

Again, keep in mind that receiving this type of extension will not absolve you from paying failure-to-pay penalties or accrued interest, but it will prevent the IRS from initiating collection procedures, such as tax liens or wage garnishment.

There is no fee for this short extension of time to pay.

IRS Fresh Start Initiative

Qualifying individuals can also request an extension of time to pay and have late payment penalties waived as part of the IRS Fresh Start initiative. To see if you qualify visit www.irs.gov and get Form 1127, Application for Extension of Time for Payment of Tax Due to Undue Hardship.

For Our Military Members

If you are in the military and serving in a combat zone on filing deadline, you have an automatic 180-day IRS extension for filing, paying any tax due and filing a claim for a refund.

Military personnel not serving in a combat zone, but stationed outside the U.S., are allowed an automatic two-month extension. However any tax due must be paid by the filing deadline.

Bottom line--if you can get your taxes done on time, do so. If not, run the extension options with a pro.

The tax clock is ticking...