updated 2/17/2006 2:57:27 PM ET 2006-02-17T19:57:27

Dread doing those taxes? This year, the IRS made it easier to procrastinate.

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The filing deadline is two days later than usual — Monday, April 17, because April 15, the normal deadline, is a Saturday. The Internal Revenue Service has also made it easier to get an automatic six-month extension beyond that.

Before, obtaining a six-month filing extension was a two-step process. Taxpayers filed one form to get an automatic four-month extension to Aug. 15, and a second form to obtain an additional extension, usually two more months. But the second extension wasn’t automatic — taxpayers had to give a reason for the additional delay and the IRS could always deny the request.

In a cost-savings move, the IRS eliminated or consolidated deadline-extension forms. Now, taxpayers receive an automatic six-month extension to Oct. 16, 2006, by filing a single form, Form 4868. They don’t have to provide a reason or even a signature, only file the form by April 17.

Businesses seeking the automatic six-month extension file Form 7004. Before, only corporations could get an automatic six-month extension; now, most non-corporate business taxpayers, including partnerships and trusts, can use this option.

The IRS warns, however, that a filing extension doesn’t extend the deadline for paying taxes. If you don’t pay the taxes you owe by the regular filing deadline — April 17 — you will owe interest and perhaps a late payment penalty.

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