Help! I'm not ready to file my taxes. What should I do?

Last minute tax tips that can save you money

You didn't get your tax documents in order yet. You're still waiting for a lost W-2. You just flat-out haven't felt like tackling your taxes. Whatever the reason you don't have your tax return completed yet, there's no need to stress about it. Filing for a tax extension is a quick and painless experience that will give you an extra six months to file.

There are several important things you'll want to keep in mind, though, if you're filing a tax extension.

1. A filing extension is not a payment extension.

If you think you're going to owe the IRS additional taxes this year, you'll need to estimate on your extension (Tax Form 4868, which you can free file) what you're going to owe and go ahead and pay that amount by this year's deadline of April 18.

If you end up overpaying, you'll get a refund. If you under-pay, you could owe penalty and interest on the amount you didn't pay.

2. Can't afford to pay? Review your options.

If you've been putting off filing because you know you owe and just can't afford to pay your taxes due, you should immediately contact the IRS to ask for an installment agreement, so you can pay what you owe in smaller amounts over time.

When you enter into the payment plan, the fees and interest will be assessed to the end of your agreement, so if you plan to pay off the debt before the end of your agreement, contact the IRS to adjust your installment amount.

Consider all your options: Using a personal loan or credit card to pay your taxes on time may be cheaper than what you'd owe the IRS by the time you factor in all the penalties, though generally a payment plan with the IRS is your best bet.

Also, failing to file your extension by April 18 results in a late-filing penalty, which is why it's important to file on time.

3. Don't bury your head in the sand.

The worst thing you can do when dealing with unaffordable taxes is ignore them. If you owe tax debt, the IRS can take serious enforced collection action, such as taking money from your bank accounts, wages, or other income. In general, they have many more options available to collect your tax debt than do other companies you may owe money to.

The IRS may send a debt collector to retrieve the funds you owe, or if you owe $10,000 or more and can't pay it right away, the IRS may file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Tax liens are reported to the major credit bureaus, and are considered very negative information so your credit scores can drop significantly as a result. If you're concerned about how tax debts might be affecting your credit, you can get a free credit report summary on Credit.com.

Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, tax liens can be reported longer than any other type of negative information — seven years from the date they are paid. However, under the IRS Fresh Start initiative, you may be able to get a tax lien withdrawn and removed from your credit reports once you pay it, or enter into an installment agreement, which we'll discuss in a moment. That's all the more reason to find a way to work with the IRS rather than avoid paying.

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

RELATED: Ways to avoid a tax audit

5 PHOTOS
How to avoid a tax audit
See Gallery
Help! I'm not ready to file my taxes. What should I do?

Double check your figures to assure there are no mistakes

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Be sure to be 100% honest, and report your numbers realistically

(Photo via Alamy)

Those in the highest and lowest income brackets are most often targets of fraud, and thus, audits

(Photo by Gary Conner via Getty Images)

Don't draw too much attention with unusual or unrealistic deductions

(Photo by Rita Maas via Getty Images)

Filing returns electronically drastically reduces errors

(Photo via Alamy)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Video: Home Repairs and Tax Deductions

You can claim tax deductions on certain types of repairs you make to your home throughout the year. Learn about home repairs and tax deductions with help from TurboTax in this video clip.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

What Are State Sales Taxes?

Many states and local governments impose a direct tax on consumption when you purchase goods and services.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Reality Star Tax Blunders

Tax blunders can be made by anyone, from the average taxpayer to television stars. However, when you're a reality star, your finances often make front-page news. Since many reality stars are newly wealthy, they can be particularly vulnerable to financial missteps, since they may not be well versed with the tax requirements that arise from a cash windfall. Perhaps the most famous reality star with tax issues is Richard Hatch, the winner of the first "Survivor" season. However, the lessons to be learned from the following reality star tax blunders can apply to many taxpayers.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com

Tax Time Gains and Losses: Calculating Your Investment Portfolio Results

Every investor's goal is the same, to make money. But a dollar earned in one investor's portfolio is not necessarily the same as a dollar earned in another's. That's because each portfolio might include a unique mix of investments and also might spread those investments among different types of accounts. When it comes to minimizing the tax bite, there may be as many different strategies as there are portfolios, but you have several ways to manage your portfolio to reduce your overall obligation.

Read More

Brought to you by TurboTax.com
Read Full Story