The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it expects to receive 10 million tax extension requests in 2011, approximately the same as last year.

The six-month extension will give taxpayers until Oct. 17 to file their tax returns this year. However, the IRS noted that an extension of the time to file is not an extension of the time to pay. All outstanding balances are due on April 18.

In order to get an extension, taxpayers or their preparers need to file Form 4868 with the IRS.

Taxpayers can electronically file Form 4868 through IRS Free File, Free File Fillable Formsc or tax software on their computers. Using Free File to prepare and electronically submit Form 4868 is free to everyone, regardless of income. Paid preparers can also electronically file Form 4868 on behalf of a taxpayer.

Finally, a paper version of Form 4868 is available for download from IRS.gov. However, the IRS will only provide an acknowledgement of an extension request if you the request is sent via e-file or Free File.

When requesting an extension, taxpayers need to estimate their tax liability and pay any balance due by the April 18 deadline. If they are unable to pay the total balance due, they should pay as much as possible and apply for an installment agreement.

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