Income Tax Extensions
File your return, regardless if you owe.
Money. You will actually save a few dollars by filing on time. It is very difficult for either a State or the IRS to assess a Failure to File Penalty, if in fact, you filed your tax return. (E-File the return.) You also start the Statute of Limitations on the return which can be very important especially should your money problems escalate or you need representation from an E.A. CPA or Attorney at Law.
With the exception of marriage, the is no more debtors prison. Both California and the IRS offer payment plans for those in dire straight.
If you owe money and cannot pay your tax liability, file your tax return on time. Do not ask for a extension, because an extension is just extension to file your income tax return. It is not a extension to pay. Just file your return and worry about paying later.
The Federal Penalties for Failure to File are totally different than that of the State of California.
The State of California will come after you a lot quicker and with more vengeance than the IRS. California knows that you can leave the State at anytime and be very difficult to find, let alone collect taxes. If you don't file, they will do it for you and assess a penalty based on your taxable liability before credits or exemptions. You may think that the $3 refund wasn't worth filing for, only to have the State file your return for you and guess what? You owe a $107 for the 'We filed it for you and charged you a Fee for doing it', plus Failure to File Penalties and possible Failure to Pay Penalties, plus Interest on any amount owed.
As for the IRS, they will follow you forever, but they only have ten years to collect after you file. The State of California has 20 years to collect.