Don’t have enough money to pay your income tax? Maybe it’s time to get creative.

4 minute read

When you owe federal, state, or local income taxes, April 15 can be the most dreaded day of the year, especially if you don’t have enough money to pay what’s owed. This year, the deadline is April 18 because of Emancipation Day. You can request an extension before the April deadline and potentially have until Oct. 17, 2022 to file.

But you’ve got other bills to pay, and your paycheck goes only so far.

So, what can you do?

Not filing a return is a terrible idea, since you’ll get caught eventually and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in penalties and interest. You may be able to apply for a payment plan with the IRS or your state tax authority, but then you’re saddled with another debt and additional monthly payments.

By focusing on scraping up enough money for taxes owed, however, you may have more options for money sources than you think.

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1. Find a side hustle

Find a side hustle

Nobody looks forward to coming home from work and starting a second shift. But the quickest way to save extra money is to earn more income, which is easy in today’s gig economy.

You may earn enough to pay taxes by driving for Uber, Lyft, or DoorDash for a month or two. Let your coworkers and neighbors know you’re available for yard cleanup, pet sitting, painting, house cleaning, or other projects.

Find out: How a Side Hustle can Help You Pay Down Debt

2. Embark on a temporary spending fast

Embark on a temporary spending fast

The second component of saving money is spending less. Decide which is worse: Depriving yourself of takeout, weekend partying, going to the movies and other luxuries that eat your paycheck, or dealing with the IRS to work out a payment plan that includes penalties and interest.

It’s easier to hunker down and work more if you know the situation is only temporary. However, when you see how much money you save, you might even adopt a few of your new money-saving practices full-time.

3. Search for unclaimed money

Search for unclaimed money

While you’re not likely to get rich searching your state treasurer or another official unclaimed money site for funds in your name, you won’t know what’s in there unless you look. There could be utility deposits or money from a former employer or retirement plan, especially if you’ve moved or changed jobs.

Sure, you may find only $5, but you could also have $100 or more waiting to be claimed. To search for unclaimed money in your state, avoid any site that makes you pay and go straight to your state treasurer or another official website to search for unclaimed money.

Find out: 7 Ways to Snag Up Hundreds of Dollars in Free Money

4. Sell stuff online

Sell stuff online

Furniture gathering dust in the basement or a storage unit? Sell it on Craigslist or another online marketplace. The same goes for lamps, dog crates and cat carriers, end tables, nightstands, bicycles, or anything else you don’t use that someone else might buy.

You’re trying to get money fast, so grit your teeth and price items low – as in lower than what other sellers are asking. The buyer will be happy, your sold item will be loved and used, and you can now use that money to pay taxes.

5. Borrow from a friend or family member

Borrow from a friend or family member

Getting a loan from friends can lead to ruined friendships, and the last thing you need at holiday dinners is the devil eye from the now-estranged sister you never repaid.

Still, if you know you’ll do your best to pay back borrowed money in a time frame you both agree on, this could be an option. Make sure you both agree on a clear payment plan and payoff date, put terms in writing, and then stick to the agreement.

6. Have a yard sale

A close cousin to selling stuff online is throwing a yard sale. It’s more work but faster money. If you want to spend two or three days on a sale, go for it. Otherwise, just do a Saturday sale, post signs everywhere, advertise on Craigslist and raise as much as you can in one day.

Remember, your goal is to raise a few hundred dollars, so don’t dig in, determined to get “what it’s worth.” Sell cheap and you’ll get rid of items and have fewer things to drag back inside after the sale.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC