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Down to the wire: 4 things to know about the tax filing deadline

If you're still getting your tax return ready to file, you've got plenty of company. Millions of taxpayers around the country wait until the last minute to file. On April 18 alone (the last day to file in 48 states), the IRS expects the number of returns that come in to be more than 5 million.

Here are four things to know about this year's filing deadline.

In Massachusetts, the deadline is April 19.

Massachusetts observes Patriot Day, so the tax filing deadline for Massachusetts residents is April 19. Massachusetts is one of only two states - the other is Maine - that gets this extra day.

You don't have to give a reason for requesting a six-month extension.

Taxpayers are entitled to an automatic six-month extension. Getting an extension enables you to avoid getting hit with a penalty for late filing.

You can request an extension by submitting form 4868 or having your tax preparer submit the request. Tax preparers have software that allows for this.

It is even possible to get an extension by signing up for an electronic payment plan. This would make filing Form 4868 unnecessary. In a news release yesterday, the IRS -not normally associated with marketing savvy - referred to this as a "2-for-1" deal.

An extension does not extend the time you have to pay.

An extension allows you to avoid the late-filing penalty. But it does not address the obligation to pay any taxes you owe.

This means that, if you can't pay the taxes you owe, you'll need to get a payment plan in place in order to avoid a failure-to-pay penalty. But it is possible to apply online for a payment agreement. Many taxpayers use this method to pay off their taxes through direct debits each month.

Extensions are commonly used.

Last year, nearly 13 million people filed for extensions. If you aren't ready to file and need more time to file a correct return, it is a perfectly sensible way to proceed.

As we said at the outset of this post, you've got plenty of company.

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