The 2009 tax countdown continues: There’s just one week left to file your federal and state income taxes. I remember spending countless years at WGN-TV, filing story after story about people who were finding new ways to procrastinate doing their taxes. The year that efile was introduced, I remember filing a story about how you could be watching Seinfeld (yes, it was that long ago), and file your taxes during a commercial break. What the IRS was trying to say was, “Yes, it’s that easy to file your taxes.”

But for some folks, all the receipts, bills, and sticky bits of information sit in a shoebox (and not a Manolo Blahnik shoebox), waiting for April 15th to arrive. And once the day draws near (nearer than today), they wake up and realize they’re going to file late. What do you do if it’s April 15th and you haven’t filed your taxes yet? You have to file an extension. And the extension has to be filed by April 15th, or you’ll be late. Not only do you have to file an extension (Form 4868), but you have to pay whatever taxes you estimate that you’ll owe.

So, you’re not saving much by filing late. You’re not even delaying the inevitable check you may have to write. All you’re doing is delaying signing the paperwork.

IRS Urges Taxpayers To e-file Extension Requests by April 15 Filing Deadline

April 7, 2009, WASHINGTON — Taxpayers who need more time to complete their returns should submit their requests for an automatic extension electronically by April 15, the Internal Revenue Service urged today.

This year, anyone, regardless of income, can e-file their extensions at no cost from a home computer using IRS traditional FreeFile or F reeFile Fillable Forms. E-filing a request for an extension using either form of FreeFile is convenient, safe and secure, and taxpayers receive confirmation to keep with their records.

The IRS expects to receive 1.9 million extension requests electronically this year. A total of almost 10 million extension requests are expected during 2009 compared with 9.5 million extensions received during 2008.

The extension gives taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file the tax return. An extension does not give the taxpayer an extension of time to pay. Those who owe taxes can make a payment when they file the extension either by mailing a check or by several electronic payment methods, such as electronic funds withdrawals from bank accounts and credit card payments.

Taxpayers can get an automatic six-month extension of time to file their tax returns by filing Form 4868, Automatic Extension of Time to File. Taxpayers can e-file the extension from a home computer or through a tax professional who uses e-file.

Some taxpayers can wait until after April 15 to file a return, pay any taxes due and make IRA contributions for 2008. As a general rule, those eligible get the extra time without having to ask for it. Eligible taxpayers include:

Members of the military serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or other combat zone localities. Normally, the postponement is until at least 180 days after the service member leaves the combat zone. Victims of severe flooding in Minnesota and North Dakota have an extra 30 days, until May 15, to file their 2008 individual tax returns and pay any taxes due. Similarly, victims of severe storms and tornadoes in three Oklahoma counties have until May 11 to file and pay.