Until now, individual taxpayers who were unable to meet the April 15 tax return filing deadline could file a Form 4868 and receive an automatic four-month filing extension until August 15. And if August 15 didn't provide enough time to get the tax return completed, taxpayers could provide a good reason for the delay on a Form 2688 and request another extension for two months until October 15.Effective for tax returns due after Jan. 1, 2006, the kinder, gentler, more cost-effective Internal Revenue Service has done away with the second extension request and changed the initial automatic extension period from four months to six. Not only will this action remove the need for taxpayers to come up with a reason for requesting the extra two months to file tax returns, it will cut back on lots of paperwork and processing time.

Starting in January, individual taxpayers can file Form 4868 by the due date of their federal income tax return and receive an automatic six-month extension for filing their tax return. No signature is required on the Form 4868. As has always been the case, the Form 4868 does not extend the due date for making tax payments.

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