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Expert: Be careful when filing for tax extension

Monday - 4/15/2013, 1:55pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- It is tax day, but many people are using the deadline to ask for more time to file their federal or state income tax returns.

"Typically people need an extension because they just aren't ready to file their taxes," explains Michael Fine, an independent tax accountant in D.C.

"They've got missing information. Maybe they've got some deductions they weren't able to gather together."

There is a myriad of potential reasons people may need an extension on their taxes, but one thing is certain.

You must be careful when requesting one.

"An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay your taxes," asserts Fine.

If you are expecting a refund, you have nothing to worry about.

However, if you owe money, Fine stresses you will pay penalties and interest if you wait until after the federal tax deadline.

"Taxes are due April 15 whether you file or not."

With that in mind, if you need a federal extension, you can hire a professional to help you or simply do it yourself.

The requisite paperwork, form 4868, can be found here.

Locally, in Maryland and D.C., the deadline to request an extension on state taxes is today, April 15.

In Virginia, the state income tax return deadline is May 1, as is the deadline for extension requests.

Federal extensions give you six months of extra time, pushing your deadline to Oct. 15

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