The Internal Revenue Service has begun to urge taxpayers who need additional time to complete their tax return to submit their request for an automatic extension electronically by April 17.

The automatic extension will give taxpayers until Oct. 15 to file the tax return -- though it does not give taxpayers 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.

The IRS expects to receive 9.9 million extensions during 2007, compared with 9.5 million extensions in 2006. Of the extensions filed last year, 1.8 million were filed electronically.

Taxpayers can get an automatic six-month extension of time to file their returns by filing Form 4868, “Automatic Extension of Time to File.” Before last filing season, only a four-month extension was automatic and taxpayers who needed more time had to make a second request.

Taxpayers can e-file the extension from a home computer or through a tax professional who uses e-file. Taxpayers can e-file their extensions at no cost. Several companies offer free e-filing of extensions through the Free File Alliance.

Paper copies of the form 4868 can also be downloaded at

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