Does your tax bill have you running for cover? Whether your tax apprehensions are due to a lack of time for all the paperwork or a lack of money to write Uncle Sam a check, you can’t hide out forever. Fortunately, the IRS does make some due date exceptions, as long as you know how to ask the right way. If you are in a tax crunch, then you can file for an extension by following a few simple steps.

What is an extension? Basically, an extension is an allowance for more time to file your tax returns. The IRS gives you until midnight on April 15 to file such a request, and if your request is granted, you have all the way until October 15 to get your tax forms postmarked. Unfortunately, your extension for filing your tax returns does not apply to paying your due taxes. You are still expected to send in a check, for at least something (see below), by April 15th, even if you get an extension.

How to file for an extension. Filing for an extension is easy. Just go to the IRS website (IRS.gov) and search for Form 4868; then fill it out and submit it online. Or, if you prefer to use a tax service or software like TurboTax, you can complete and submit Form 4868 that way.

What about late tax payments? If you simply cannot afford to pay your taxes on time, then you can apply for an installment plan (this application is also on IRS.gov). For about 6 percent interest and an application fee (usually somewhere between $43 and $105), the federal government will allow you to pay your tax bill in monthly installments. However, you must still submit the first payment of your installment plan by April 15th. Failure to make your first payment on time (or apply for your payment installment plan on time) will result in a 5 percent interest charge on your entire bill, for each month that you are late.

Are you owed a refund? If so, then you don’t have to file an extension if you can’t file your tax return on time, and you certainly don’t have to bother applying for an installment plan. That’s right, you can just take your time filing your taxes. This makes sense, considering the government is probably more eager to get the money owed to it than to give money away to the taxpayers.

Filing a late tax return is not the end of the world. However, you must still take steps to stay on the right side of the law. You can click here for more information about your IRS tax forms and then you should gauge your specific circumstances to determine what actions you need to take, and then pay a quick visit to the IRS website to follow through on a suitable plan.