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Taxpayers group urges IRS and Congress to extend deadline to May 15

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Want more time to file your taxes? The good news is, the IRS will give you some pretty generous extensions—most taxpayers can get a six-month extension automatically by filing a simple form. The bad news is, if you owe taxes, you can't get an extension without some negotiating with the agency.

Enter the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, an advocacy group that on Thursday called on the government to extend the income tax filing deadline by a month, to May 15, saying the record government shutdown has hampered the tax-collecting agency.

"The IRS was delayed out of the starting gate this tax season, and has spent the weeks following the shutdown trying to play catch-up. That's left taxpayers with less help in filing and making payment arrangements that they have come to expect, even weeks after the shutdown ended," said the foundation, which is the nonprofit arm of the National Taxpayers Union, a conservative taxpayer advocacy group.

And apparently some Americans mistakenly think the shutdown gave them extra time, according to one survey.

A recent poll by Jackson Hewitt, the second-largest tax preparer in the U.S., found that nearly 40 percent of respondents answered "yes" to the following question: "Do you think you will be given additional time (past April 15) to file your taxes since the government was shut down?"

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That's not the case, tax pros say. The April 15 deadline to file a tax return is written into the tax code, and unchangeable without an act of Congress. The only exceptions are when the 15th falls on a Sunday or on a local holiday, in which case returns are due the following business day. (As is the case in Maine and Massachusetts, which celebrate Patriot's Day on the 15th.) 

The belief in an extension could come down to wishful thinking or a basic desire for fairness. Mark Steber, Jackson Hewitt's chief tax officer, attributes it to a customer-centric mindset.

"People think whenever you're denied a service, it's made up on the back end. When your cable TV goes out, they say, you don't have to pay for that month," he said.

Steber added that he frequently encounters people at parties who confidently tell him, "I have 30 more days to pay my taxes." At least one Twitter user agreed with that idea:

Young taxpayers are the most likely to believe that they'll have more time, the survey found. Half of respondents aged between 18 and 22 believed they would have more time to file, while just 35 percent of those aged 55 to 73 believed they would.

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Whoever these taxpayers are, they're not calling the IRS. An agency spokesperson told CBS News that he hadn't heard of many people being confused about the deadline.  

"I'm not telling you it doesn't exist," he said. "But our message is, if you need the extra time, by all means, take it. Just realize that it's extra time to file, not to pay."

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