TICK, TOCK. The deadline for your 2009 return is a week away. Not quite ready? Fortunately, the Internal Revenue Service has some sympathy for procrastinators; the paperwork for filing an extension is simple, and it will give you until Oct. 15, 2010 to file. In other words, the IRS will give you an automatic six-month extension.

In order to complete the extension form, you have to come up with an estimate of your total tax liability for the 2009 tax year. You also need to know exactly how much you've already forked over to the tax man in the form of withholdings from paychecks, estimated tax payments and so on. And if it turns out that you owe money, you're going to have to ante up, based on your tax estimate. Now, for some folks, once you've completed the exercise of coming up with an estimate, you might as well just go ahead and file your taxes. But if your taxes are complicated or if you're still waiting for information you need to complete your return, filing for an extension can be the way to go.

Approval of your extension application is automatic, as long as the estimate of your 2009 tax bill is "reasonable." (You'll be OK if your estimate was accurate based on the information you had at the time.) Just keep in mind, you'll be charged interest on any outstanding balance until you file your return and pay the remaining part you owe.

If you're interested in extending, you must notify the IRS that you want an extension by the April 15, 2010 deadline. You can do this by filling out Form 4868 for the federal extension and Form IT-370 for the NYS extension.

Let me know if you need assistance with this - I'd be happy to help.

(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).