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Money Fix: Can't pay your tax bill?

You did your taxes. You owe, and worse,

You did your taxes. You owe, and worse, you can't pay the bill. What now? Before you panic, or fail to file, consider some options, experts advise. Credit: iStock

You did your taxes. You owe, and worse, you can't pay the bill. What now? Can you borrow from family or friends? If not, there are options.

File an extension: To limit the penalties assessed for not paying on time, file for an extension by April 15 and pay as much as you can by that time, advises Wilma Hayes, a tax preparer for H&R Block in New York City.

The penalty for not paying in full is 0.5 percent of the unpaid balance per month, but the monthly penalty for not filing a tax return is 5 percent. Interest also accrues on the unpaid tax and the penalties assessed.

Get a temporary delay: The Internal Revenue Service allows up to 120 days to pay your bill in full without additional fees, though interest and penalties accrue until the bill is fully paid.

Seek an installment agreement: If you can't pay within 120 days, set up a payment plan that fits your budget. "However, there is added interest, so you'll pay more than you originally owed. The IRS also charges a fee for setting up a plan," says Leslie Tayne, a Melville attorney specializing in debt issues.

Charge it? The upside of using your credit card is you avoid IRS interest and penalties. But it's not a perfect solution. "The IRS charges a convenience fee, approximately 2.5 percent of the tax bill," says Sophia Duffy, an assistant professor at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa. And unless you use a zero-percent card, you'll pay interest charges until you pay off the balance.

Just don't ignore the problem.

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