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Buying Time on Small-Business Taxes

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) -- Small-business owners are going over their 2009 financial records with various levels of dismay. Most are counting every penny. Yes, the economy seems to be picking up (gradually), and revenue may have stabilized (somewhat). But that doesn't make the looming tax bills any easier to pay.

Which leads some to wonder: Is there a way to postpone the blow? Given that so many businesses are struggling, might the Internal Revenue Service be willing to make a deal?

First, the good news: If you're in really dire straits, you can buy yourself time by delaying certain payments. If you act in good faith and follow the correct procedures, that might be enough to get you through a bad patch.

But there's no way to avoid the inevitable result. At some point, now or later, you will have to pay those taxes. No matter how hard-hit your industry has been by the recession, the IRS isn't giving anyone a break.

One miniscule upside to an economic crisis is that income taxes fall along with revenue. Many companies will find their income-tax bills dramatically lower than in years past. But if paying even those lower amounts is a struggle, companies can apply for an extension to file, just as individual taxpayers do.

Just remember that you're getting an extension to file tax forms, not a free pass on payments. If you don't pay your estimated tax by April 15, be prepared to incur penalties and interest on the amount due.

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